A Midnight Carnival
Project info

This series deconstructs the carnival into a dark and painterly three part harmony: Man, a world of his inventions, and an ever-watchful Father Sky.
I think art also has a melody. Sometimes, that melody can help us complete a song, as when evoking lyrics from a dream; forgotten. -Chris Raecker

This series of Chris Raecker's black and white photographs focus on the strange and wonderf ul wor ld of the American carnival, specifically those of Raecker's native Midwest. Using post-modern street photography as a starting point,Raecker creates the story of the carnival with three main characters: man/child, machine, and sky; he captures these subj ects during all times of the day,digitally manipulating the images to cast a midnight tone. The final image that results is a hauntingly otherworldly scene in which the subjects areisolated,the mood punctuated by a surrealquality that resonates with the viewer long after leaving the image.

Raecker's compositions pair larger than life skies with silhouettes of gargantuan roller coasters that leave a spiraling impression against the looming clouds. He depicts children riding the coaster at the peak of their journeys;at any second they could be catapulted into the air, over the clouds into some other place. Arms stretched overhead, fingers spread out attempting to touch the sky, hair standing at its end; these images are filled with excitement and mystery. The engulfing skies make the viewer wonder as to where these rides make their final destination, a feeling heightened by Raecker's selective cropping of the images ;while his photographs are completely spontaneous,the final image that we see has been purposefully limited to heighten Raecker's desired tone. For example, Disk illustrates a young girl being swung around on a carnival ride, hands and feet reaching out in sheer thrill,and while we see this when we place the piece into its context, at first glance the ride is lost and all we see if a young child being flung through the air; her hands are not outstretched with glee, but rather grasping for a helping hand, someone to catch and save her. By controlling what strikes us first within his images, Raecker turns our thoughts to the unearthly and somew hat eerie potential of these photographs.

While Raecker's images leave us with a haunted f eeling,they also recall familiar scenes and experiences from childhood as well ; Time to Go,withits expansive skyscape,nostalgically brings us back to unwillingly leaving the carnival after a long day of thrills. The carnival fades into the background over the hill, and we retreat from the world of careless amusement. Raecker's images have the uncanny ability to call both fondness and wariness to mind,to make us both yearning and hesitant at the same time: a rich emotional rollercoaster to compliment the carnival's visuallandscape,in Raecker's words,a subject "ripe for unraveling."-Karen Jenkins Johnson