Drowned is a series by photographer Bobby Neel Adams that channels ‘Vanitas’ themes and images. A type of symbolic art common in 16th century Flemish still life painting, the Latin word roughly translates to ‘emptiness’ and often incorporated subject matter such as skulls, rotting food, and other objects representing death and decay. A Vanitas image was meant to remind its viewer of the fleeting nature of life and the certainty of death. Adams composed these shots in an aquarium filled with murky water, acheiving not only a painter-like feel but an otherworldly and eerie one as well. Adams is based in New York and creates all of his projects on film.
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Bobby Neel Adams
Bobby Neel Adams was born in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and resides in New York. After graduating from Goddard College in Vermont, he moved to San Francisco, where he lived and worked for the next eighteen years. Much of Adams’ photographic work addresses the transformation of the human body by aging and circumstance. In the late 1980s, he began using a photomontage technique he termed ‘Photo -surgery,’ in which photographs were altered through manual excision, collage, and sometime defacing of the subject. Adams remains a dinosaur, creating all of his projects on film and remaining free of the bells and whistles of Photoshop. His work is held in the following collections: International Center for Photography, the Houston Museum of Fine Art and the Norton Family Foundation among others. This work is from his series, ‘Couples’.