If someone is photographed falling off a railroad trestle, is it Photoshop or broken bones? And if you bought a print and put it up on your wall, would that mean you’re off center?
Without the judgmental filter of Photoshop running through the brain, Kerry Skarbakka’s images can be disturbing. We’ve all seen enough bad news stories to imagine what happens when we see scenes from Skarbakka’s photographs. Someone falls off a ladder with nothing to grasp, or head first down some stairs, or in a bathtub, naked. The naked ones particularly cringy – unless you’re Heidi Klum and Seal who are rumored to not be very bothered by nudity.
It turns out, the leap in many of Skarbakka’s photographs is the one required by your imagination as you try to figure out where the ropes and pulleys were placed in staging the photograph. Images of Skarbakka falling through life in death defying style are both real and staged. He edits out the harnesses. It’s like the restaurant ice sculpture you once admired. You were impressed by the meticulous attention to detail. What carving skill? Then one day you wander into a restaurant supply store and happen upon a bin full of rubber molds for ice sculptures. But making the molds took some genius – right?
It would seem that out in the photo buying marketing there’s an appetite for the dark side. These images in art galleries and on the artist’s web site are selling well enough to keep Skarbakka busily preparing for more leaps of faith which aren’t all leaps – some are. They are rock climbing experience at work along with a vivid imagination and no one other than the photographer willing to perform the stunts.
We’re thinking that Skarbakka is demonstrating more than just his offbeat creative genius here. He’s also doing some savvy marketing with his bold, out of bounds photography. After admitting to a certain attraction to the feeling of being compromised, Skarbakka said, “You have to be Jesus now in this art world to get some notice.” That, with a few broken bones to prove your mettle.