30 August 2021
30 August 2021 - Written by PhMuseum
British photographer Rachel Louise Brown travels across Florida in search of factories of reality to then portray, by means of staged group photography, the contemporary need to break out an artificially imagined existence.
Simulations was created over a four-year period (during the month of October each year), whilst being an artist in residence at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, Florida.
Influenced by Jean Baudrillard’s 1981 essay Simulacra and Simulations, I was drawn to America to explore what Baudrillard describes as ‘imagination stations’; environments created to entertain society. In his essay, he argues that these illusions distract society from the fact that our everyday existence is no longer real. He believes the illusion has taken over and that we now reside in a simulation. Florida, advertised as the epicentre of thrill-seeking and escapism, provided the perfect backdrop to explore these ideas.
I photographed local attractions such as Palm Beach Zoo, Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairground, Mar-a-Lago and The Breakers Hotel. Additionally, I wandered the streets of West Palm Beach at night in search of simulated environments. As the project evolved, I posted casting calls in the Palm Beach Daily News and worked with local strangers to stage cinematic portraits. In the later years, I took the exploration as far across the state as Walt Disney World, The Holy Land and the Mermaid Show at Weeki Wachee Springs. On my final visit, I cast local youngsters who train intensely for the purpose of entertaining an audience. Participants included ballerinas, gymnasts, marching bands and a strip club dancer. Whether looking at a constructed environment, an imagined character or a trained body, Simulations invites us to question the fabrication of reality.
Words and Pictures by Rachel Louise Brown.
Rachel Louise Brown graduated from the Royal College of Art, MA Photography program (2011), following a year-long artist residency at the School of Visual Arts, NYC (2009) and BA (Hons) Photography at the London College of Communication (2008). Brown has exhibited internationally, most recently showing her series Simulations as part of the Women in Photography Pavilion Commission at Photo London (2019) Brown is represented by Wren Agency, London and Crane Kalman Brighton. Find her on PHmuseum and Instagram.
This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.
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