James Casebere

Flooded Hallway, 1998-1999

James Casebere (American, born 1953), Flooded Hallway, 1998-1999, dye destruction print, 24 x 30 in. Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School, 2003.5. © James Casebere.

James Casebere’s photograph shows a hallway flooded with water. However, this is not a photograph of an actual flooded building, but rather of a table-top model the artist constructed that uses a special type of poured resin known as “E-2 Water” to create a simulation of a flooded space, which both challenges the idea of the photograph as a document and pushes the boundaries of the medium. Casebere began making these images in 1998. In an interview with fellow artist Roberto Juarez, he stated: “The first image where I did use water was . . . based on photographs of flooded bunkers under the Reichstag. The water as a metaphor is about the passage of time. It’s about temporality. But it’s also about emotion, an excess of emotion . . . about some sense of fullness. Maybe it’s a fear of drowning. It’s also a sense of overflow—good or bad—but movement.” As Juarez noted in response, “Casebere’s photographs evoke our deepest fears and longings” and also “captivate our collective imagination, the one ruled by instinct.”