Art Crush: Ivar Wigan’s “The Gods” (NSFW)

Ivar Wigan_Python_2013

The Gods, the latest work from Scottish photographer Ivar Wigan, is an intimate journey through the street culture of the Deep South, documenting the grit and glory of the daily lives of strippers and hustlers in Miami, Atlanta, and New Orleans. Wigan spent four years befriending his subjects, gaining access to exclusive parties and strip clubs, and compiling the series. The result is an electrifying immersion into the center of a world that is often marginalized and misunderstood. His work is currently on display at Little Big Man Gallery in Los Angeles.

Ivar Wigan_Bright Lights_2014 Ivar Wigan_Princess_2012

Many people think of the urban fringes of the American South as crime-ridden and impoverished, but The Gods turns that notion wildly on its head, introducing us to a decadent and saturated world of throbbing pool parties, red-lit strip clubs, intricate full-body tattoos, cherry red Cadillacs, a python worn as an accessory. This is a world in which hustlers spend their days perfecting their cars and strippers are envied and revered, taking home trash bags full of money each night. The Gods gracefully sidesteps perception and reputation, choosing instead to celebrate the intense creativity and resilience of these men and women, and the effervescent energy of their high rolling, Dionysian lifestyle.

Ivar Wigan_Black Cherry_2011 Ivar Wigan_Lux Interior_2012

These are communities in which men and women hustle day and night, money is easy, and there is a great deal of attention placed on image and reputation. There is also a deep dedication to living lavishly, partying wildly, and savoring the good life. This quality inspired the comparison that became the title of the series. “Some of the stories I heard whilst making friends ‘on the corner’ reminded me of ancient mythology. Money is made fast and once that is out of the way, life is dedicated to looking good, love affairs and the occasional ruckus. The first parallel lifestyle that occurred to me was those Gods of ancient Rome. The term ‘Gods’ is also a slang term used to describe veteran hustlers who’ve survived the street life.”  Wigan’s work recognizes the classical aspects woven into the fibers of this culture, and acknowledges that it makes these communities even more unique and remarkable.

Ivar Wigan_The 305_2013 Ivar Wigan_The Hotel Geneva_2010

Wigan’s photos are infused with empathy and a deeply rooted respect. He attempts to capture the complexities of these cultures by letting his subjects control their own narrative and represent themselves on their own terms. His portraits are simultaneously composed and spontaneous, intimate and openly defiant. His use of deeply saturated color and contrast elevates the reality of his photographs into a dreamlike, heightened state of existence. He finds unexpected moments of poignancy. At its core, Wigan’s work documents these dynamic communities viscerally and authentically without the politics of judgment, making The Gods a feverish celebration of culture.

Ivar Wigan_Pink Panther_2011 Ivar Wigan_Red Light_2012

Ivar Wigan_Pool Party_2010

It’s All Gucci…