The Barnard College visual arts student creating raw and whimsical photographs with a touch of the hyperreal.
For Visual Arts major Blakey Bessire, photography and language are inextricably linked. Currently minoring in history and environmental science, she finds herself reading nearly constantly. Whether fact or fiction, she has always adored devouring the narratives they unfold and using them as a source of ideas for her work. “I get the most inspiration when I’m reading,” Blakey reflects. “It’s when you can get smacked in the face by something that completely bewilders you.”
Blakey channels this feeling of the curiously surreal in her photographs, which strike a perfect balance between raw and whimsical, with a touch of the hyperreal. This idiosyncrasy is difficult to pinpoint, but for Blakey it’s captured in faintly dreamlike scenes such as “a wealthy rancher standing on a pile of fruit, honking sounds through a vacuum cleaner, huge umbrellas or fake snow made from dust — things that are a little ‘off’, a story that resembles a story.”
Blakey’s sensibility for the peculiar is in large part shaped by her childhood in Maine, a place that, despite appearances, is “filled with all of these tiny secrets.” One of its biggest — which has captured Blakey’s attention — sounds both as mundane and fantastical as you might expect from her. An old bean factory near where she lives has become something of an obsession since they banned visitors because of a closely kept secret recipe. “That’s a goal right now. I will convince them to let me take photos of their hundred-year old bean vats,” she declares.
Last week Blakey moved to Tokyo for an exchange semester as part of her degree at Barnard College in New York. There she hopes to uncover, explore and celebrate the magical secrets of her new surroundings through a series which will be “part documentary, part fiction, part surreal survey of the strange grey and pastel-ness of the city.” We can’t wait to see the undoubtably stunning results of this project as well as future work beyond her time in Tokyo.