We strive to actively erase demerits and detritus: we polish away scratches, iron away wrinkles, and interpret signs of wear as a decrease in value of an object. But inspite of the sleek perfectionism that rules our contemporary ideology, we find signs of the opposite everywhere: the scars, blemishes and bruises that life inevitably brings with it.
In his series Cracks and Dents (2016-2018), Lycien-David Cséry has honed in on such imperfections. Influenced by his experience of legendary Los Angeles traffic, Cséry documented wear and tear on cars, capturing how oxidation, dirt and chance affect textures, form and color. The title of the series is a nod to American “Crack and Dent Sales” where lightly damaged goods are sold at a discount.
Motorized vehicles are a part of our everyday life, whether as a mode of transport, equipment or status symbol. They even serve as inspiration for social gatherings or even – as is often the case in California – living quarters. These contexts and Cséry’s intimate framing imbue the works with a sense of incredible familiarity. Each work’s perspective nudges the viewer to indulge in its singularity. Through this closeness, the images take on a visceral quality, reminding of personal injuries past.
However, Cracks and Dents does not only illustrate material weakness or avoidable damages, but also the touch of the human hand to machine: attempts to make urgent and often makeshift repairs to necessary components. With great care and laser focus, Cséry directs his audience to reflect on their relationships with derogation and everyday ownership. The works not only encourage our alertness for small irregularities in our environment, but also show the effects of weathering in a new light. Cséry’s photographs demonstrate the unique allure of imperfections that – upon closer inspection – can be found everywhere.