A dilapidated subway car full of sand, an abandoned shopping mall overgrown with trees, a tattered library covered in debris — these are scenes that a photographer would normally have to leave their house to go out and find. But photographer Lori Nix is an exception. A homebody since she was a child, Nix found a way to photograph imaginative, and sometimes dismal scenes from the comfort of her own home.
Nix and her partner, Kathleen Gerber, make extremly realistic mini-dioramas — and their recent collaboration, “The City,” takes the viewer into a dark, post-apocalyptic world.
“Rather than go out into the world in search of these scenes, I choose to stay in my apartment and build my own worlds,” Nix told Business Insider. Ahead, see more of the surreal mini-dioramas made by Nix and Gerber.
Nix and Gerber split the workload according to their skill set. Nix is the builder and architect -- she designs the layout, creates the floors, walls, windows, and furniture.
Gerber is the sculptor and the painter. She makes the smaller objects and props such as skulls, specimen jars, space suits, and animals. Nix will set everything up and it's Gerber who then carefully destroys it, making it look truly post-apocalyptic.
'I (like that I) can mix and match details that would not normally be found together,' Nix said. 'I like being able to design all aspects of the scene.'
Nix was born and raised in the Midwest, and her experiences with natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, and blizzards has shaped her interest around danger and destruction.
Nix is now living and creating work in New York City -- which serves as a major source of inspiration, she said.
'I'm surrounded by amazing architecture, neighbourhood bodegas, world-renowned museums, and cheap Chinese food,' she said.
'With this series, I am imagining what the city would look life devoid of humans, how the buildings would age and crumble without our presence, and the return of nature and wildlife to the concrete jungle.'
'When I commit to a new scene, I have to really love the idea because I'm going to be looking at it, living with it, and even having dinner with it for many months to come,' Nix said.
But Nix remains patient. 'I do not let the long build-time worry me,' she said. 'These take as long as they need to take. I hate it when I fill pressured to speed up the process to make a deadline for an exhibition.'
While the actual building of the dioramas takes months, getting the perfect photograph can also take a considerable amount of time. For this series, Nix photographed for weeks, shooting anywhere from six to 30 sheets of film of one scene.
As soon as she gets the perfect photograph, she dismantles the diorama so they can start to make a new one.
Nix and Gerber are currently working on 'The City Part B' that will be from the perspective of the street looking into the city. This involves more landscapes and less interiors.
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