Artists Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick met as photo students during art school at Washington University in Saint Louis. Since 1988, they have collaborated as Kahn/Selesnick on elaborate and surreal photo-novellas and sculpture installations. These document their different series of precise but fictitious narratives set in humanity’s pan-cultural folkloric pasts and sci-fi futures. Weaving together imagined lives and rituals with impeccably crafted costumes and props, Kahn/Selenick’s images exist in a precarious vacillation between ecstasy and disaster, clarity and madness, beauty and cruelty. Art history (especially Hieronymus Bosch and the Romantics) is a constant reference as is the mechanics of avant-garde theater. Their mythical worlds, mock anthropology and rambling narratives spin absurdist fantasies about eccentric humans and hybrid creatures existing among mountain glaciers, salt mines, ruins, alien planets, utopian cityscapes and flooding marshlands. These diverse projects are united by a theme of landscape, as Selesnick remarked: “It is about the story of man’s interaction with landscape and each project is another chapter in that story.”
Both artists were born in 1964—Kahn in New York and Selesnick in London. They received their BFAs from Washington University. Their work is shown worldwide and is included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Houston Museum of Fine Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institute among others. They have published three books with Aperture Press. Kahn lives in Ghent (NY) and Selesnick lives in Rhinebeck (NY).