Artist's Statement

Ryan Schude

Archival Digital Print - 20x30 Inches Based on a centuries old tradition of storytelling in painting, sculpture, and theater, Tableaux Vivants creates a narrative blending documentary and fictional approaches to photography. Three main elements, the environment, characters, and story are brought together by various levels of reality interspersed with imaginated signifiers. Ultimately the viewer is given the authority to decide what they are interpreting, choosing their own beginning, middle, and end. The origin of each final image may vary between the elements but the process that transpires always allows for each part to inform each other organically along the way. For instance, the idea to convey a domestic dispute might require an apartment building as the backdrop for the scene to unfold. A married couple may be the only ones needed to tell that story initially, but after a location is found, the narrative evolves based on the specifics of the chosen environment. Suddenly we have a neighbor child playing hopscotch out front with their dog, a woman carrying laundry up from the basement, another seen through their window watching television, all born out of the actual details of that particular building. Every one of the elements are photographed at the same time and in the same place, with the ideal outcome being that everything you see in the final image occurred in a single frame. This notion brings us back to the roots of these tableaux being performed in the streets as theater pieces, with each actor holding position for passers by to witness a split-second temporarily suspended. Regardless of which of these elements emerge as the impetus, the resulting community that is portrayed supersedes the path taken to end up there. Now in its 14th year, this project will continue indefinitely with the hopes of bringing more groups together to share stories both universal and timeless, while forever specific to the people and places represented in that moment.