Down the Rabbit Hole into Strange World Photography
“99 percent of the people who experience Ocean City only come down for a week during the summer when it’s nice and sunny, then leave, taking the sunny and bright image of OC with them. The thing is, this place still exists, whether the tourist is here or not and I wanted to show that to people who maybe haven’t thought about it. Give ‘em a little dose of the Strange.”
We all know the old adage, “you never really know a man until you walk in his shoes,” but what about “until you look through his lens?” We all see the world differently, which is what makes the art of photography so captivating – we get to transform ourselves with the lens, seeing what the photographer sees, while simultaneously still seeing what we want to see. Local photographer Chris Maust sat down with ShoreBread this week, discussing his debut art show this Friday, Strange World Photography, and what he sees when he looks through the lens.
“This place still exists, whether the tourist is here or not,” is a notion that year-round locals understand all too well. When the season ends, the crowds subside, and the cold months creep in, Ocean City transforms into a different world. Maust effectively captures this world in his photography, finding and presenting the absence rather than the presence of people. “Ocean City is really good for architecture in the off-season, because you can go places and take an image devoid of people…just the emptiness of the man-made objects,” said Maust. One of Maust’s favorite pieces is the image of a sign post against a foggy and devoid backdrop of Ocean City. It’s quintessential wintertime Ocean City – a strange world. That’s not to say all of Maust’s photography centers on the absence of life. “People also really spark my interest, in a sort of ‘candid street’ manner, where there are no fake smiles, body tilted slightly to the left, chin up.”
With a clear dichotomy in Maust’s images, it’s no surprise that his inspiration comes from equally divergent places. “There are two situations that really get me going,” said Maust. “The first being completely alone and isolated (such as Ocean City in the off-season). I feel like I can lose myself and explore a realm not many get to witness. The second is complete and total chaos. I like to feed off the energy of the people.” Maust noted that his favorite piece, born of complete chaos, is an image of the police standoff with protestors at the G-20 protests in Pittsburgh.
The unifying thread in Maust’s work is the presence of the strange, hence the name of his artwork, Strange World Photography. “I don’t like pretty sunsets and beachscapes – well I do, but I don’t enjoy taking pictures of them,” explained Maust. “I like to capture a bit of the unknown, something a little off, uncomfortable almost…and well, strange.”
Maust will present his work in his first show this Friday, September 13 at Zenna Wellness Studio in Berlin during Berlin’s 2nd Friday Art Stroll. The show will run from 5pm to 9pm, with 17 pieces on display, all for sale – both prints and framed pieces. The show’s theme mirrors the four seasons of Ocean City. “I start off with fall, then the harsh winter, then spring, and finally summer,” explained Maust. “If you live in Ocean City, or have ever been, I think you will find these images very interesting.” Also coinciding with the theme are prints of the stark Siberian winter in Russia, and the harsh backdrop of the Pittsburgh protests.
For more information on Strange World Photography, visit strangeworldphoto.com.