All images are archival pigment prints. Sizes, prices, and edition information are available on request. Some works are not for sale. (Note: Each image in "Narratives" contains text within, or below, the image.)
I am Stephen Spiller. I live and work in Long Island City, NY, USA. I had no formal art education yet came to love holding a camera in my hands feeling compelled to photograph, with black and white film, people on city streets where I lived, worked, and traveled. Perhaps that happened because I was, and still am, fascinated with the concept of “identity”, and my street experiences taught me to understand myself based on visceral attraction/repulsion to others. Or maybe because photography addressed my yearning for personal satisfaction.
Gradually I realized my images addressed themes of social, political, and cultural interest revealing how life is shaped and lived; that my attention focused on drivers of individual passions (e.g. social “causes” like homelessness, physical handicaps, etc.) and text was critical to my expression. Recently I’ve been combining media, using saturated colors, satire, and humor. It’s a new approach that I believe gives my work a contemporary, and controversial, feeling. And, it satisfies my desire to explore important subjects using new and, I hope, stronger techniques.
I’m uncomfortable simply labeling my work “art” and only content if I respond viscerally to my creations, believing that: ”Unless art achieves an esthetic shock capable of dissociating us from our established experiences, it is just illustration." (French philosopher Jacques Rancière).
Central to my current work is that people are increasingly exploited by powerful interests and factions. Influenced by advertising and fashion, for example, countless numbers behave as if they are constantly on stage, demonstrating who they want to be, are expected to be, or others believe them to be. They present themselves favorably, convinced that distinctive clothing and accessories are required. By overstating the value of physical appearance, they are distracted from caring who they are, engaging in a futile effort to cement contrived “looks” into their identity. Absent immediate and positive feedback, self-worth is sabotaged. Even gratification from positive feedback engenders the risk of false identity. I think beauty and fashion reflect fantasy and encourage false perceptions of identity and an obsession with appearance qua identity.
I have exhibited in metropolitan cities, e.g. New York, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Miami Beach; Arles, France; Malaga, Spain; Thessaloniki, Greece; Venice, Italy; Berlin, Germany (upcoming 2016), etc.; online exhibitions and digital group shows. I’ve also been recognized in U.S. and international competitions as well as various publications.
Exploited - Booth S1002 at Spectrum Miami Dec. 3 - 9, 2015
Current and Upcoming Exhibitions
Venice, Italy (October 3 - 9, 2015) Venezia Open Art Collective Exhibition
Miami, Florida (December 2 - 6, 2015) Miami Photo Salon (booth S 1002) Spectrum Miami Art Show exhibiting during Art Basel Miami week.
Berlin, Germany (This group exhibition opens in Berlin the 3rd Q 2016. It then travels to other European cities in 2017, specific dates and locations to be announced)
Carter Burden Gallery, New York, New York (Group Show: Closed June 29, 2015)
National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation, Thessaloniki, Greece (Group Show: Closed April 8th 2015)
Musee Magazine, 2015 Issue # 12 - Controversy
Musee Magazine, 2015 Issue # 11 - Vanity
What I believe
“Against the ruin of the world, there is only one defense — the creative act.” Kenneth Rexroth, Disengagement: The Art Of The Beat Generation
“... art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move.” Ossie Davis
Language not only expresses thought, it "...actually determines the way in which its speakers perceive the world." Benjamin Lee Whorf.
"Unless art achieves an esthetic shock capable of dissociating us from our established experiences, it is just illustration." From Art In America, attributable to French philosopher Jacques Rancière
"Fashion Is Murder." Words carved in cement by an unknown author. (My take? It's real life memorialized in a Soho sidewalk. Clichés like Drop dead gorgeous. Killer looks. Dressed to kill. To die for. all expresss fantasy - amusing following a lobotomy.)