Indexing Joy

Radar CuratorialGeneral

The work of Photographer Jason Gardner

Photographer Jason Gardner indexes joy. He seeks out expressions of joy in life, in human connections and personal convictions. To do this he wisely goes straight to a perfect source of revelry, carnivals around the world. Through documenting unguarded celebrators he meets his subjects eye to eye and shares an insider’s look at the bits and pieces that make up their colorful and elaborate costumes and reflect their lives.

Recently Gardner shared with me some of his images from the Dunkirk Carnival (Le Carnaval de Dunkerque) held in the small coastal city of Dunkerque, France. The photos are colorful to be sure and celebratory. He explained that originally a party was held for the fishermen and their families before the men left for months at a time to fish and that this dangerous job cost many men their lives. Facing uncertainty and danger the town would celebrate life. And his book A Flower in the Mouth is an exploration of the culture, music and rituals of Carnaval in Pernambuco, Brazil held during the four-days before Lent. Here he finds joy surrounding celebrating within religious convictions. The work from this location are a burst of color, music and dancing.

His work is also a study of costume as art, religious expression and historical reference. The colors are riotous and rife with symbolism. Everyone slips in to a persona and joins together in these massive celebrations.

He will be presenting his work at the ViennaPhotoBookFestival on June 9-11 and images from his work are on his site.