Dark Matter Atlas
Published by Distanz
A stunning exploration
Over the past two decades, Stephen Waddell (born Vancouver, 1968; lives and works in Vancouver) has become widely known for his large-scale color photographs that depict the human figure in urban space.
The Dark Matter Atlas presents a body of recent photographs in which the artist has departed dramatically from the subject matter of his earlier work. Here he instead focuses on caverns in the United States, Canada, and Lebanon, spaces once difficult to access that are now underground public parks. Waddell's surreal and compellingly beautiful pictures expand upon conventional conceptions of landscape. They recall a varied set of precedents from the modern era, including Nadar's nineteenth-century photographs of the catacombs of Paris and photographs the sculptor Constantin Brancusi made of his studio in the 1920s and 30s. Their otherworldly character also evokes photography's inherent ability to bring us images of exotic or distant places we will never see in person. The fantastic nature of the caverns, and the evocative forms of the stalactites and stalagmites that fill them, find an uncanny echo in Waddell's accompanying pictures of stains and mineral deposits left by leakages in the parking garages and concrete basements that lie just below the surface of the contemporary urban environment.
With an essay by author and curator Craig Burnett.