Installation, National Gallery of Art, Sophia, Bulgaria, 2014
Employing props, actors, stage design, and theatrical lighting in his Tableau Vivant series, Dailey creates composite photo-based images that, like the work of his contemporary Jeff Wall, give new currency to the historical genre of the tableau vivant. These staged “living pictures” draw on art historical narrative conventions while simultaneously challenging the viewer’s expectation of the photographic image. The new pictorial concept constituted by these photographic tableaux exploits seemingly paradoxical qualities to create hybrid images between the worlds of reality and fantasy.
The narratives in Dailey’s compositions are elucidated not only through pose and gesture but also through embedded symbolism revealing the artist’s ongoing interest in ciphers, mythology, and deception. In the complex scenes he has constructed, he utilizes the tableau vivant format as a vehicle for making witty and often ironic critical commentary on such contemporary social and political issues as gender roles and societal expectations, global concerns, and hypocrisy.