(American, b. 1985 Saudi Arabia; resides in Hillside, IL)
Evan Baden's portrait series, The Illuminati (2006-2007), depicts solitary figures from the waist up, bathed in a soft light and surrounded by shadows in a manner that recalls Johannes Vermeer’s (Dutch, 1632-1675) paintings. In Baden’s photographs, however, the glow radiates from the screens of electronic devices, such as iPods, cell phones, and computers, rather than streaming in from a nearby window. The artist captures his subjects during ostensibly private moments and their faces are uniformly expressionless as if mesmerized. Baden’s works reveal a notable generational shift: the kids growing up now have never known a world in which they are not constantly plugged into information networks, even while on the move. Though Baden’s portraits have a tranquil beauty, he is more interested in the implications of these new social conditions. “These devices grace us with the ability to instantly connect to others,” he states, “and at the same time they isolate us from those with whom we are connected. They allow for great freedom, yet so often we are chained to them.”
Baden’s most recent series, The Taradiddle High School Yearbook Project (2014-2015), began during his time as the Artist in Residence at the Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland, Oregon. Continuing on themes of youth and technology, Baden collaborates with students from high schools to create a very familiar, yet fictive, narrative of the lives of teenagers today. Baden is interested in how young people understand technology as a constant component of their lives and how they use it to represent themselves and engage with the world, not knowing a time before the ease and immediacy of creating and distributing imagery. Always interested in the notion of photographic truth, Baden is working to create a physical yearbook of these images, using his camera to tell the story of a high school that never existed.
Evan Baden completed a BFA at the College of Visual Arts, St. Paul, Minnesota (2007) and an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago (2014). His photographs have been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including in London, Paris, Venice, Florence, Finland, Germany, Toronto, and the United States. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including TIME, New York Magazine, Le Monde, The Guardian, Foam, and Die Zeit. Baden is a recipient of the Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists (2008), and his work is held in the permanent collections of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, Bloomington.