For nearly a decade, Reno photographer Paul Baker Prindle has documented sites from California to New York that look extraordinarily ordinary, downright banal.
Yet each of these places and their every day landscapes have a horrific story to tell. Each photograph is of a location where gay men, lesbians and transgender individuals were murdered.
“Viewers won’t find the bloody remains of violence or clues to who was murdered or why within these photographs,” explained Baker Prindle, whose series “Mementi Mori” is the featured exhibit at the Nevada Arts Council’s OXS Gallery through March 9.
“Human lives were forever ended in ignominious, plain places and I’ve purposely recorded these locales after years of growth and development have obscured any traces that once scarred the land. Even the infamous site of Matthew Shepard’s death at the foot of idyllic, snow-capped peaks is encircled by suburban sprawl. Each site I visited was an unsettling disappointment, bearing few, if any, clues to the value of the life that ended there. The photograph produced is a weak, but concrete, tie back to the criminal events that occurred at each site.”
In contrast to the banal images, Baker Prindle creates gruesome titles for the photographs from content he found in police reports, statements from grieving parents, letters and news reports.
The contrast, he said, is to bring the viewer into the image emotionally and to understand their personal reading of the image is more important that the actual photograph.
“My hope is to help viewers recognize how central fantasy and imagination are to the photographic image,” he said. “From fashion shoots to war images from Iraq, photographic images rely on the viewer to complete their meaning by drawing on conscious and unconscious biases, preferences and world views.”
The exhibit seeks to show how people think about important current events and provoke conversations about the conventions of photography, photographic images and objects, and the ways in which photographs function as memory tools.
Prindle’s photography has been widely exhibited. Objects from “Mementi Mori” are held by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and the Wisconsin Museum of Art. He’s a 2018 recipient of a Nevada Arts Council Artist Fellowship in Visual Arts.
Managed by the Artist Services Program at the Nevada Arts Council, the OXS Gallery is at 716 N. Carson St., Suite A. A reception and artist talk featuring Baker Prindle will take place Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m.