Brown (b. England 1985) graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2011. An award-winning photographer, she has exhibited and completed artist residencies internationally – most recently at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, Florida, where Simulations was created over a four year period, that culminated in a solo show in 2018. This is the first presentation of the work in the UK.
A starting point for the artist was Jean Baudrillard’s 1981 discourse Simulacra and Simulation. Brown was drawn to what Baudrillard describes as ‘imagination stations’; environments created to entertain society. Florida, advertised as the epicentre of thrill-seeking and escapism, provided a perfect backdrop to explore this concept. Brown’s methods of taking photographs frequently involve an element of risk. The photographer often explores her own fear by placing herself in unpredictable situations. For Simulations, Brown wandered the streets of West Palm Beach alone at night in search of simulated environments as well as placing casting calls in the Palm Beach Daily News to work with local strangers and stage cinematic portraits. These approaches to image making allow the photographer to create fictional narratives while at the same time translate heightened psychological states in both herself and her subjects.
In the quest for her subject matter, Brown photographed local attractions such as Palm Beach Zoo, Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairground, Mar-a-Lago and The Breakers Hotel. She also took her exploration as far across the state as Walt Disney World, The Holy Land and the Mermaid Show at Weeki Wachee Springs. During her final visit she cast local youngsters who train intensely for the purpose of entertaining an audience. Participants included ballerinas, gymnasts, marching bands and a strip club dancer. Whether we are looking at a constructed environment, an imagined character or a trained body, Simulations asks us to question the fabrication of reality.