Brandon Tauszik

We were asked to write 500 words on an artist of our choosing for my course. I chose this guy.

Brandon Tauszik, photographer and videographer, is a relatively recent find of mine. Originally hailing from northern England, Tauszik relocated to the USA, attending secondary school in Florida. He is now based in Oakland, California where he works for video production studio Sprinkle Lab, directing music videos and commercials. His documentary style photography projects are a largely personal endeavour, pursued in his spare time.

I first happened upon his work in an article on Vice.com, the online version of the arts, news and culture magazine, popular for its immersion style journalism. The piece focused on ‘White Wax’, a fairly recent project of Tauszik’s which documented the so-called ‘murder shrines’ around the artist’s own town of Oakland. Murder shrines are temporary memorials, set up in the exact locations of murders, to honour the lives of victims of street violence, usually consisting of any number of candles, liquor bottles, messages and artefacts by which to remember the deceased. The article and photographs gripped me, and as I am typically attracted to point-and-shoot style documentary photography with an interesting concept, this was right up my street. A subsequent visit to the artist’s own website uncovered a wealth of other photographs I felt a connection to.

I fell completely in love with one project in particular: ‘Pray for Mercy’. This was a fascinating documentation of the religious organization Family Radio (also Oakland based). Lead by the recently deceased Evangelical author and broadcaster Harold Camping, the world-wide-reaching organisation (with assets of approximately $152 million in 2007) told of the impending judgement day supposedly to occur on May 21st 2011 (Camping had previously made several wrong predictions). This most recent prediction of course also proved wrong, to the dismay of his followers. The run up to this date and the aftermath, so fraught with emotion and confusion, were so tactfully captured by Tauszik.

I think my especial fascination with ‘Pray for Mercy’ stems from similar notions to those which provoke Tauszik’s pursuit of such stories. In his own words, he is “inspired by how bizarre it is to exist as a human being”, and this resonates with myself in that I am constantly questioning what it is to be a human – all these odd human endeavours in the world, rituals and religion; what do they mean as a whole and how do they effect individuals on a personal level? At what point would you define a religious organisation as a cult; are these people brainwashed? How much of themselves do they retain; is the devastation felt at the lack of doomsday due to them asking themselves the same questions?

Aligning with my own views of photography, Tauszik states that for him, “photography acts as a medium to illuminate ideas, statements and questions regarding all aspects of life.” I completely agree. In his existing body of photographic work he has, for me, raised questions, illuminated and provoked thoughts on subjects I’ve found endlessly fascinating. I don’t doubt he will be a constant inspiration throughout my photographic career.

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