b. 1987, Australia

Anna Carey Biography

Anna Carey is an Australian artist currently based in Los Angeles. She is known for creating miniature models of houses and motels based on her memories and imagination. She presents these models as photographs. In the photograph, the model comes close to a successful illusion of reality, but small details return the viewer to an awareness of the presence of Carey's hands and mind at play.

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Carey's process of making is in essence the process of remembering. The models she creates are influenced by her childhood around the beaches of Queensland. In her adult life her exposure to the architecture of Las Vegas and Los Angeles further matured the set of experiences that inform her practice. In her 'Stardust' series, working from the memory of 44 motels named Stardust that she found online, Carey builds models of motels. These creations begin as a sketch but are altered and updated as the model is built. In 84 Frank Street, Surfers Paradise...now (2015), a Stardust motel is pictured roadside, with a to-scale palm tree on the left and a billboard with the motel's logo to the right. The railing on the ramshackle building's second story outlines the pattern of a seashell between its bars. Only in the faintest details—predominantly the precarious angling of some of the support pillars—does the viewer become cognisant that perhaps they are witnessing an elaborate illusion. In this process of recognition and mis-recognition, Carey explores how memories and images are copied and repeated to form an imitation as well as a new autonomous being.

After growing up and living in Queensland, Carey moved to Melbourne before settling in Los Angeles. There, she has been inspired by the both generic and eccentric architectural spaces of the city, merging them with the spaces of her childhood and her imagination for her work. In 'In Search of Rainbows' (2017) Carey created seven models each representing an interior architectural view based on one colour of the rainbow. The images of these models are called Pink Flamingo, Purple Sage, Blue Pearl, Green Paradise, Yellow Moon, Orange Sun and Red Rose. In Yellow Moon, the image of a spacious hall is centred around a stained-glass window of an eye looking down on the space. Wooden pillars—remnants of both the performed and real construction of the space—are the only things, alongside a few potted plants, that linger in the hall. Outside, through dirty windows, is a breathtaking scenic view. In Green Paradise, green fans spin on a green ceiling connected to green walls with green blinds over the windows. A mural of a green garden scene sits next to a green plant. Some of the 'In Search of Rainbows' interiors appear as if they might be vacant places of worship, while others seem to be homes just moved into. In each, a life may be projected by the viewer onto the space. The artificial construction of these spaces lends to a sense of architectural possibility beyond the original reality; the interiors lure the viewer in to a non-existent world of dreamy cohesion.

In her models, Carey creates a magnified reality. In the process of recreation from memory, certain aspects are prioritised, and others left behind. By photographing her re-constructed memories in situ, Carey re-examines the hierarchy of reality-signifiers within the real landscape. Carey aims to create a space that seems to contain life, and succeeds, but also creates a space outside of life, emphasising spatial experience as a contingent phenomenon. In her 'Twilight' series (2014), she created façades of typical California-image motel and hotel buildings at twilight, surrounded by hazy intimations of the California landscape. They are both infinitely possible within the clichés of California architecture and impossible in their perfection of these clichés, creating a hypertension between the real, the ideal and the unreal.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2018

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