Tucked away in the southwest corner of busy Brooklyn is Dyker Heights, a residential neighborhood that boasts both luxury mansions and the modest house. Though a seemingly typical suburban community, each Christmas, Dyker Heights comes to life with a comprehensive nocturnal display of lights and glowing holiday props. Having heard about this annual tradition, Franck Bohbot decided to head to the neighborhood in 2014 to see what all the fuss was about.
Initially surprised to find such a sight in New York City, Bohbot was eventually struck by the artificiality of it; simultaneously a scene of beauty and one of neighborly competition, Bohbot viewed the suburban spectacle as a representation of the fabricated fantasy that is so often found in the American way of life. Mesmerized by the pomp of oversized wreaths and the irony of plastic nativity scenes, he decided to photograph such a display.
On December 22 and 23 (2014), he returned to the neighborhood with his camera in-hand and sought to capture the unique atmosphere of each house. Using long exposure to perfectly portray the luminous décor, Bohbot shot each scene with a perspective control wide-angle lens in order to keep the lines of the architecture straight and to suggest each home as a kind of maquette. He also opted to retain a normal temperature – cold whites and blues – as to avoid misinterpretation and to create something that is both “real and artificial at the same time.” The result, American Fantasy, is both a study of this paradox and a poignant reminder that, when Christmas is over and routine resumes, Dyker Heights is – and will always be – a residential neighborhood whose streets shed no light after dark.
-Text By Kelly Richman