Seattle-based photographer Sadie Wechsler creates dreamlike scenarios, using photography in concert with other tools to create an alternate world. She takes advantage of her medium to create scenarios that vary from just the other side of normal, where perhaps one detail is not quite right, to lyrical, innately surreal constructions. Wechsler, who was just named one of five finalists for the 2014 Aperture Portfolio Prize, answered some of our questions about her difficult-to-pigeonhole work.
Is there an overarching theme or unifying qualities to this body of work?
“I made this work to see if I could create a reality where land and space is shifting and mutable, where humor always aligns with terror and where there is an urgency of message without being dogmatic, and where the familiar is no longer reliable.”
Do you have a story behind each photograph, or does it vary?
“Each image has its own thrust, but they are seen with the same view. Maybe it is good to think of them like a group of individuals that have come together. As a group, there is not a linear arc but a shifting type of seeing that has more in common to dreams or memories than plot-based storytelling.”
How do you come up with the ideas for your pictures? Do you pull on a lot of cultural references?
“Generally, every image has a different starting point. It may seem obvious, but I work in relation to what I experience: emotionally, mentally, physically, and also visually. I respond to these stimuli and create images that subscribe not to one form of seeing or understanding but instead to a redistribution of them all.”