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2017 Annual Juried Competition
NIGHT MONSTERS is a series of photographs that explores the American culture of revenge through its portrayal in contemporary film. With a focus on narratives of institutionalized torture, bullying, and sharks, NIGHT MONSTERS investigates how familiar storytelling tropes hold a mirror to our society and the cavalier attitude that “the ends justify the means.” Bullying is a longstanding epidemic in the United States and elsewhere. The vengeance carried out by teens against their aggressors in popular cinema is routinely portrayed as justified, if not heroic. Bullies are often treated as undeserving of a fair trial themselves as their victims exact violent retribution. Sharks have long inspired dread. We portray them as vengeful and capable of holding a grudge against individual humans, hunting and killing us with gleeful intent. The film “Jaws” was released in 1975. In the years immediately following,the population of great white sharks dropped 50% on the eastern seaboard and by nearly 80% by 2000. By re–contextualizing images from contemporary films, NIGHT MONSTERS looks at how these varied trends in contemporary films reflect and reinforce the values in our society today, asking the viewer to consider who or what are the actual monsters.
Ryan Spencer is an artist, producer and photography book editor based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and received his MFA in photography from Pratt University. His series of Polaroids, Romance & Adventure, which chronicled the history of The World Trade Center in popular film was exhibited at Dust Gallery in Las Vegas, Nevada and featured in NY Arts Magazine in 2006. He was recently a producer and technical director for the theatrical presentation American Power, featuring photographer Mitch Epstein and musician Erik Friedlander which premiered at Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2011 and made its US premier at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 2013. He is also an occasional contributing writer and photographer for BOMB Magazine. Such Mean Estate is Ryan Spencer’s first monograph and first publication with Powerhouse Books. It has been featured in Guernica Magazine, Blonde Art Books and The New Yorker.
Artist’s website: http://ryanspencerphoto.com