(b. 1975; resides Chicago, IL)
For depicting routine activities in ordinary places, there is a tension in Ben Gest’s pictures that is at first hard to explain. People clustered tightly together seem isolated and somehow fail to interact. The photographer leaves subtle hints—shifts in lighting, surfaces that don’t quite align—that suggest the construction of these scenes and help explain the disconnect between the people in them. Whether it be a library, a bedroom, or a staircase, the subjects in Gest’s photographs share the same place, but not at the same time. Shot at separate times on separate negatives, Gest manages to bring his subjects together in a single frame with the help of a computer, but their proximity is without intimacy.
Ben Gest was born in 1975 in Caldwell, New Jersey. He received a BA in visual art from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (1997) and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago (2002). His work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and LaSalle Bank, Chicago, and has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Gest lives and works in Chicago.