When Australian photographer Dean West began thinking of ideas for a new project in 2009 using Legos, he had no idea that the potential result would take him all around the world as part of an innovative project with an NY-based artist. popped into his head. He simply ordered a box of the toy, and after a little research on typical Lego constructions, noticed that Nathan Sawaya, a New York–based artist who has created some remarkable large-scale sculptures out of Lego bricks might be THE partner for him. West contacted Sawaya, proposed they collaborate on a project, and two weeks later found himself on a flight to the U.S. to figure out the details of what would eventually become the series “In Pieces.”
Inspired by the work of Edward Hopper and the aesthetic of the American postcard, the project features a series of tableau compositions based on ideas about nature, culture and identity construction. Identity as a cultural creation has been heavily manipulated and commercialized, and this is prominently portrayed in this highly stylized representation of contemporary life.
The images have been constructed by combining West’s modern photography techniques and Sawaya’s unique sculptures made out of LEGO®. Key to the series narrative and aesthetic Sawaya’s sculptures are much like the construction of a digital photograph. Thousands of bricks are glued together to form recognizable objects much like the assembly of pixels in a digital image. The similarities in technology not only help shape the aesthetic of IN PIECES, they are key to deconstructing each tableau composition.
Using mostly frontal style imagery of the North American landscape, the simple unvarnished vernacular locations, reference the American Picture Postcard. Pastel blues, greens and yellows wash across the photographs as if, they themselves, had also been hand colored lithograph. The imagery from a distance, appears entirely photographic, however as the viewer begins to digest the imagery, each work reveals the brick by brick fabricated construction.