“A friend of the family gave me a camera when I was thirteen. I seemed bored and a bit lonely, I think. It cured the first but not the second”, Pelle Cass says. This may be the reason why the creations of the Massachusetts-based photographer are saturated by strange crowds… It is only recently that he became a “full-time artist” who enjoys developing surrealist series, turning reality into an absurd theatre
“I got a commission from a magazine to photograph the Atlanta Hawks in 2015. I had never really thought to photograph sports before, but this image turned out really well. Once I got started with sports, I knew I wanted to work on this subject for a while”, says the photographer who doesn’t like to describe his creations as mere collages. “I like making things. Spending time laboring over my pictures in photoshop is a little like working with my hands. My overall approach however, despite the chaotic look of my images, is realism”, he tells us. Starting with an almost empty stage, the artist then chooses what to add, what to erase, without changing his subjects’ positions, “not even a pixel”, he says. From these pictures emerges a fascinating mess, inviting us to reconsider our own vision of the world.
A rhythmic chaos
Because in this “rhythmic chaos” as he calls it, Pelle Cass has fun revealing the uncanniness of our everyday life. Though he only captures reality, the mass of bodies, frozen in weird positions, evokes, to him, “Dionysian feelings”. Sport, usually so organised becomes unpredictable, forcing the viewer to observe the players, extracted from their narrative. An insane universe where the worst excesses may occur in all anonymity. Should we be panicking, facing this agitated crowd? Or see, in these pictures, an illustration of mass consumption or overpopulation?
To the photographers, these images are not meant to denounce anything, but only to contrast with normality. A madness attracting him irresistibly. “I like that viewers might think about these topics, however. I think that’s a reasonable interpretation of the kind of chaos I said I was trying to depict. Which maybe is somewhere in between war and an orgy”, he tells us. An ambiguity sneaking up on us, feeding our emotions: from laughter to fear, from absurdity to saturation. In this see of men, rules are only meant to be broken, and all excess is encouraged.
© Pelle Cass