Photographer Jody Fausett takes care of Unfinished Business
The law of the femme is gospel in Fausett's latest body of work
Photographer Jody Fausett's exurbia gothic has made him one of the most consistently fascinating photographers working in Atlanta over the last decade. His Dawsonville family members and their homes have become familiar players in a long-running soap. Fausett moves his relations around like chess pieces, dressing them in tatty glam and placing them in bedrooms where the bare walls and low ceilings threaten (at least figuratively) to cut off their air supply. In the process, Fausett has imagined the home as a repository of vast secrets, hidden agendas, death and lurking danger. And glamour too: Seedy drama, outsize emotional states, lost diamond rings and fancy draperies that frame the action like a proscenium make Fausett's North Georgia fantasy look like a sudsy rival to "Dynasty" or "Falcon Crest."
Something very bad has happened — or is about to happen — in Fausett's latest body of photographs Unfinished Business, which continues his obsession with the weird sublime. Bright lights burn through living room drapes as if a spaceship has touched down outside. A shattered melon and a puff of smoke in the backyard suggest OTP body snatching. The citizens of Fausettville have been infected with something, too. They preen and flip their hair like supermodels while wearing mesh fruit bags on their heads. They stand haughty, foxy and devil-may-care in their panty hose in gaudy living rooms. Something sexy has taken hold of these dames. There isn't a man in sight — Fausett's grandmothers, who often show up as models and offer their homes as sets, are both widows. Taken together, the works suggests some planet of the she-devils where the law of the femme is gospel. A tangle of bras drips like Maidenform kudzu from a hanger in "Back Bedroom" and glitter pools around gram's feet like Judy Garland's tears in "Champagne Blonde."
Gone are the photographer's trademark sawdust foxes and frozen geese — the taxidermied Noah's ark that Fausett used for so long to indicate something stifling and oppressive about his domestic spaces. That feeling, though, has not changed.
Even innocuous details seem loaded, as in "Baroque." What form of bad is a resident trying to ward off with a dining room sideboard heaped with Jesus figurines? Kitsch has never looked so menacing.
Fausett's exteriors look like set pieces but his interiors are like tombs, grim and underlit save for an exclamatory beam of light in the ravishing "Red" that illuminates a plate of fruit on a red table. An entirely jarring image, it's as if someone has bashed her whole forearm onto the piano keys all at once to strike a discordant, disturbing note. The plate of fruit pulsates with expectation, with the promise of something very important about to happen.
Fausett makes his domestic chambers super spooky but also glamorous and exciting, thrilling border zones somewhere between Douglas Sirk and "Ghost Hunters" and always tipping over into madness.