New York

Ted Serios

Marta Cervera Gallery

In a world in which every dark corner has been exposed to merciless scientific scrutiny, we yearn for evidence of a different reality. We crave the outrageous—we want to defy reason, explanation, and categorization. In short, we need romance, and photographs of something that our logic tells us is impossible or unbelievable satisfies this thirst.

Although as yet unchronicled on the Phil Donahue show, Ted Serios has attempted to answer this need for decades (he is now 72). A self-defined alcoholic living out of a pickup truck with his canine companion, somewhere in Colorado, Serios provides the luxury of romance via his own brand of shamanistic parapsychology by pointing a camera at his forehead and supposedly photographing his thoughts.

It would be easy to get entangled in the pseudodebate over the legitimacy of such claims, but the burden of proof should lie with those who make such assertions. The sceptic is under no obligation to disprove such extravagant proclamations. Just because I can’t disprove the existence of the Loch Ness monster, I am not obliged to believe in it.

Once the contrived believe-it-or-not controversy is sidestepped, other more interesting aspects of the work begin to surface. Small photographs, depict vague architectural remnants of places long forgotten, or traces of unrecognizable people. Hazy and barely glimpsed, these images walk a fine line between reality and fantasy. Divorced from narrative or contextual meaning, they float free in the mental space of the unnamed. Serios shows us images that almost seem to come from our own memory. For example, a generic Parthenon-type building is tilted in a sea of unfocused darkness. In another photograph, an image of a crouched and naked figure of undetermined gender, in an inexplicit setting, suggests the vagueness of dimly remembered experiences. Others are only partial images, requiring a closeness of inspection that increases their intimate nature. Like photographs discovered in the bottom of a desk drawer from some long-forgotten vacation, the images strung around the room suggest a cinematic foray into the dusty recesses of the mind.

Regardless of his supposed methods, Serios’ work shares affinities with that of Laurie Simmons, Rebecca Horn, and Ross Bleckner, not to mention Joseph Beuys, all of whom mined the subterranean maze of the unconscious. Serios’ photographs speak directly of that emotive realm of the forgotten or repressed. Instead of parapsychology, Serios’ mètier is real psychology.

Dena Shottenkirk

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