Gabrielle Birney



Realism is a performance.

Searching is a photographic exploration of my father's internal state.  He died in 2015. During his life he struggled with his mental and physical health which impacted my family’s economic stability. He had difficulty keeping a steady job and frequently found himself changing careers. The abandoned medical facility that I use as a setting for my photographs hearkens back to my father’s continuous need for medical attention. That building's abandonment alludes to the mental isolation he experienced. My model for this series of photographs is my husband, who is working as a metaphorical stand-in for my father.

This project delves into economic loss, isolation, and loss of manhood. My father's mental health was cast in a villainous role, but through this project, I analyze his mental state and locate his internal sadness. My father was always searching - searching for a better life for himself and his family, searching for a more fulfilling job, searching for his own internal happiness, and searching for love and support. As an adult, I’ve found myself on this same search.

By making these photographs, I am able to understand now just how isolated and lonely my father felt during his life. For once, I was able to find the control my father had always been chasing. This, too, gave me the control I have been searching for.