For the past few years, artist Chris Anthony has had the urge to travel to Antarctica to photograph melting polar caps as part of an idea of a future world forming in his mind.
“It seemed so impractical and there was no way I could bring people down there,” he said. But Anthony's initial notion morphed into something he could accomplish without the expedition.
“I thought maybe it would be more interesting to not have any ice or sense of that all,” he explained. “That's really quite the point, that it's really melted away.”
Anthony's vision of ordinary life in a flooded world became “Venice,” his current show at Corey Helford Gallery's Special Exhibition Space, which opened on March 28. In part, it was influenced by floods in Venice, Italy, one of which Anthony witnessed two decades ago, and the series was shot on Venice Beach, California. However “Venice” is not about either location.
“I was thinking of a world, a state, where Venice was a metaphor for this, a sinking city,” Anthony said.
In Anthony's “Venice,” people brush their teeth with bottled water as waves roll behind them, play tennis, ride bikes and dance while holding Venetian carnival masks. The models — including actors Emily Deschanel and Jacinda Barrett, artist Mercedes Helnwein and musicians Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) and Lyn-Z (Mindless Self Indulgence) — wade through a knee deep sea, appearing like miniature figures against the vast expanse of water and sky that surrounds them.
Those who have attended previous Corey Helford events might already be familiar with Anthony's work in this regard. His piece “Breathe,” the prototype for the “Venice” series, appeared in last fall's group show “Clowns!”
“It showed me that this was a possibility for the 'Venice' series,” says Anthony of the piece. “Once I did that, I was off and running.”
Though an interest in photographing melting polar caps served as the seed for Anthony's project, he's quick to point out that the photographs are not intended to convey a specific message.
“This is the stuff that is going through my head and it's the ideas that I'm working with but it's not my intention to preach about it,” he explains. “People can interpret them or take from them what they will. That's just what was going on in my head, but I don't think that it's necessary that they serve some sort of purpose other than that they be interesting and beautiful, hopefully.”