LA-based photographer Pej Behdarvand's assignment for Car & Driver magazine, to record a BMW's final moments, ("Our Bimmer Gets Gutted") progressed into his brilliant series "Deathbed." Some of the absolute best work I see is made as "personal work" when the photographer takes their idea and executes it under their own steam. Successful projects like this can then boost a photographer's assignment work and gain them important exposure both inside and outside of the photography world.
Instead of shooting the cars in the
grave junk yard, Behdarvand isolated them on a black fabric backdrop, rendering them emotionally discomfiting. They are only cars, not even one you yourself have owned, yet they pull on your heartstrings and their last gasp is almost audible! Behdarvand says:
The vehicles in this photo series are depicted as if museum objects, yet unlike museum objects these wrecked cars are not to be physically preserved intact for posterity, but will be crushed for reuse in another form. The photo is the only document of the auto in this unique, temporary state: after its useful life, before it is reincarnated into recyclable material. What information is captured in these images? A glimpse of the nebulous phase of a manmade thing, with remnants of brand choice and societal status, with evidence of family and pride, categorized indifferently with grease-pencil marks. In Deathbed, the photo is a relic, a relic of a car relinquished to the junkyard to be held until it is no longer a car.
When someone on Twitter compared this series to Michael Massaia's sculptural sunbathers, it only made sense to post "Deathbed" here too. Don't get too maudlin!