The images in Other People’s Clothes are a product of my exploration of private moments of expectation, a visual expression of my experiences stepping into the shoes of the types of people I see on a daily basis. Each photograph in the series is a constructed scene that begins with an outfit or piece of clothing (either bought, found, or borrowed), then a person that I imagine to fill those clothes, and finally a location where that person can play out a silent moment alone. This moment is the time right before something changes, the holding in of a breath and waiting, the preparing of oneself for what is to come. Though I am the physical subject of these images, they are not traditional self-portraits. They are portraits of people I have never met but with whom I feel familiar, as well as documents of the process wherein I try on the transitional moments of others' lives in order to better understand my own.
Odd One Out
The images in Odd One Out began as found photographs, purchased in antique stores and estate sales, of groups of people during special events, reunions, and family gatherings. The photographs are the spoils of a hunt, the proceeds of afternoons spent looking into the eyes of people I do not know and who may no longer be living. I select images of people who, unlike the rest of the smiling faces in the frame, bear looks of loneliness and longing that stop me in my tracks. Removed from their original context and meanings, I then digitally alter these photographs to segregate the one from the many, isolating the person from their surroundings by a field of white. The shape of the crowd is maintained, hinting at details of the group of which the person is a part, but with which they do not feel at home. The negation of the group serves to emphasize the presence of the one, to make visible the person who feels invisible. In constructing these images, I tell the story of the outsider, the odd one, those who are alone in a crowd.
Collected antique glass negatives, printed as cyanotype on personals classified pages from 1970s Drummer Magazines
As I began to be perceived by the world as a man, it felt strange to be seen as something I did not feel I understood. What it means to be a man has always felt slippery and strange, something I am separate from, observing and dissecting from afar. I collect photos of men, alone and together, looking for clues--- not only of how men of the past made sense of their own identities and relationships with each other, but also as potential mirrors that I hope might reflect back something about myself. Histories is about this process of trial and error, and about how that search for self and sense of place has changed for others over time.
When access to information was far less immediate, how did men learn what it means to be a man? How did they make sense of their feelings and desires, especially those they felt they had to hide, and how did they find community and connection? How has homophobia affected not only the relationships men have with one another, but how they understand themselves? Through slow, hand-made processes I ask these questions, as well as how to make room for a masculinity that is tender, open and complex, and relationships between men that allow for intimacy and genuine connection.
Born in Indianapolis, Caleb Cole is a former altar server, scout, and 4-H Grand Champion in Gift Wrapping. His mother instilled in him a love of garage sales and thrift stores, where he developed a fascination with the junk that people leave behind. Cole is a 2015 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow, 2013 Hearst 8x10 Biennial Winner, 2013 and 2010 Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Winner, 2011 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award winner, 2011 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Finalist, 2009 Artadia Award winner, and a 2009 Photolucida Critical Mass finalist. He has exhibited at a variety of national venues, including the deCordova Museum of Art (Lincoln, MA), David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University (Providence, RI), and Jenkins Johnson Gallery (NYC), among others. He is represented by Gallery Kayafas.
Click on any of the thumbnail images to launch the viewer. You can then navigate forward and backward within the portfolio by clicking the left or right side of the enlarged image. Click the add to collection checkbox to automatically add an image to your collection. Image tags or search engine keywords appear below the collections' checkbox and each word or phrase is a link to potentially more image matches.