Without a touch of sensationalism, the pose in Cattelle’s photos is never flashy or provocative; instead, the nude figure becomes one with the space she inhabits. The effect is powerful, not just because of the eroticism, but also because her nakedness seems to emphasize excruciating human vulnerability. The contrast between the texture of dead, abandoned industrial spaces and the soft, quiet vivacity of the bare human body could be described as both mentally agonizing and hauntingly romantic.
Black and white photography, one that started since Cattelle was in high school, has turned into the artist’s life-long obsession. Cattelle’s virtuosity with the format hasn’t truly manifests itself until his BARE-USA project, in which Cattelle juxtaposes nudity against industrial decay and urban ruins. He is in the course of travelling and shooting local models in each of 50 USA States, and June Ann of GEMINIJUNEMOON has had the chance to collaborate with Cattelle when he made a stop at Missouri this summer.
As part of an international subculture of urban explorers, Cattelle spends a lot of time surveying the decaying skeleton of urban cities. Beyond the thrill of seeing what others have not seen, or dare not see, and the sense that it should be recorded for future generations, urban explorers are driven by other motives, among them romance.
For Cattelle, the draw is the uncultivated, feral beauty that can be found in the broken-down landscape of industrial-age America. And that’s when nude photography came into the picture. With Bare-USA, Cattelle was able to depict the city as a living organism, dissect it and look into its unseen layers. The human figures manifest themselves as dwellers in the darkest rooms in the collective subconscious of all modern cities. Yet the project is not so much about the figure as it is about the triumph of decay and entropy, and the human resistance against it. This sense of communicating with the city on a secret frequency may be what is most appealing to the artist and viewer alike.
The photos have a spooky, voyeuristic quality not unlike the feeling you get from looking at Weegee’s crime-scene photos. Beyond the forbidden nature of urban exploration, it is impossible to visit some of the spectacular haunts without experiencing a touch of the sacred. Concrete columns lined up in perfectly symmetrical order, creating a dreamlike procession of naves whose architectural rigor stands in stark contrast to rotting ruin and decay on the floor. But what really gave the building its rarefied air was the silence. Amid the daily cacophony of the city, where every place is packed with a scrum of people, this space stood empty, a still counterpoint to everything around it. And thus Cattelle has accomplished more than what he set out to do: the photos are not only aesthetically beautiful, they’re narrative, poetic, spiritual.
looking at fashion as fine arts, architecture, anthropology, an extreme form of human performance.