With subjects ranging from bruised faces to severed mannequin heads, Scott Caruth‘s photography is unafraid of casting light on beat-up objects most of us would typically pass without giving a second glance. Caruth’s eye for the unusual has created a collection of photographs that are evocative of young adulthood and its more dubious, unexplored aspects. Recently, we had the chance to ask the recent graduate a few questions about his work.
BULLETT: Your work puts typically ugly, ignored subjects – crumbling buildings, cluttered rooms, broken glass, ripped tights – on full display. What about these kind of run-down subjects attracts you?
CARUTH: I’ve always been drawn to those sorts of things. Perhaps subliminally it’s a product of how unnerving I find immaculateness. Besides there’s nothing worse than somebody trying to show you the world through rose tinted glasses, that’s what advertisings for.
Religious imagery pops up a lot in your work. Did you grow up with any important religious influences in your life?
Not really no, neither of my parents were religious and they told me that I could choose whichever one I liked. That’s probably the best approach a parent can take if they want to scare their children away from organised religion. As for it recurring in my work, I’ve always been obsessed with how religious iconography attempts to be welcoming and revering at the same time.
Your locations vary from public bathrooms to churches to gift shops. Where has been your favorite place to shoot so far? Least favorite?
It’s difficult to identify one place that was more enjoyable to take photographs in over another as I feel it is less to do with the place and more to do with being somewhere for the first time. All of a sudden you realise how much your eyes switch off when you walk between the same places day after day.
What is the most sinful thing you’ve had to do to get a good shot?
To be honest with you I’ve never understood why taking a photograph could ever be a bad thing. But police officers seem to find it antagonizing regardless of what your shooting. Militant Israeli settlers are also much better behaved when you have one in your hands. So I guess it can work for you or against you, you just have to take photographs as if nothings wrong. Life would be a lot easier if flashes were invisible though.
A lot of your photos appear to be spur-of-the-moment. Do you rely on improvisation in deciding what to take photos of, or do you go into shoots with a plan as to what you want the subject to be?
I can safely say that I’ve never been on a ‘shoot ‘ before. I’m just in the habit of carrying a camera around with me all the time. It’s only recently that I’ve started thinking of going to places purely to take photographs. I reckon it’s best to take photographs with no preconceptions and to just see what happens. I’m not at the technical stage yet where I can guarantee a photographs outcome. Besides I think its more fun that way.
You’ve compiled your photos into a zine. What was it about the format that interested you? Are there anymore in the works?
I love the process of making books, it’s so satisfying. Aesthetically, photo blogs are nowhere near as beautiful as books are. I’ve also set myself the goal of publishing more books than Nobuyoshi Araki, who’s published more than 400 in his career.
Which of the Seven Deadly Sins would you consider the best counterpart to your work and why?
I guess my sin would be envy, considering my previous answer.
What would you say is a central theme that unites your work?
At the risk of sounding like a prick, I guess the only thing that unifies my work is me. As you pointed out there’s a lot of irregular subject matter thrown in together so it would be difficult to identify one thing that ties it all together. It’s just the way I’d like people to see the things that I see.
What are you working on right now?
Well I’ve just graduated so I’m looking forward to making work that doesn’t always require huge justifications. There’s a couple of places I’d like to travel to if I can afford it and there’s a residency in Cairo that looks exciting so I might apply for that. Other than that I’m looking forward to having no plans for a while other than taking photos and making books.
For more of Scott’s work, visit cargocollective.com/