Nathan Sawaya & Dean West: In Pieces

Story By
Cita Arsita Farani

A multimedia collaboration that integrates a childhood staple into representations of highly stylized contemporary life.

At a glance, the pastel colors and the empty, minimalist scenes in the “In Pieces” series are already intriguing, inviting you for a closer look. Only then you will notice that some elements are so out of place yet seamlessly integrated, which brings you back to the bigger picture. 

“In Pieces” is a project which references digital pixelization and the commercialization of identity. Photographer Dean West collaborated with LEGO® sculptor Nathan Sawaya to create the seemingly pixelated elements, which were actually LEGO® objects painstakingly constructed brick by brick, much like the assembly of pixels in a digital image. 

In an awkward moment of self-awareness, the subjects appear frozen, standing in recognizable but chillingly desolate landscapes. Their averted eyes gaze into nothingness, and a strange feeling of aloofness and displacement reverberates. The subjects’ subtle interactions with LEGO® pieces again serve as a key element to the narrative, along with the digital enhancements to the photographs, representing identity as a cultural creation, profoundly manipulated and commercialized. 

Photographer Dean West has received worldwide recognition with his highly conceptual and thought-provoking style of contemporary portraiture, earning him numerous prestigious awards. Nathan Sawaya is known as the Brick Artist, choosing LEGO® bricks as the medium for his creative expression and resulting in playful sculptures of various scales. 

photos by
Dean West courtesy of the Opiom Gallery