Lisa Kereszi explores the world of recreation and escapism, viewing with a critical eye the sites she has photographed for over 20 years, such as amusement parks, movie theaters, dive bars, strip clubs, and arcades. Inspired by environments that transport us into a fantasy realm, Kereszi strips away the thinly veiled façade to reveal a far more gritty and pedestrian view of these spaces.
In Fun and Games, Kereszi focuses on the banal details within venues of cheap popular entertainment, such as the base of a stripper pole, the steps up to a theater, and golden stage curtains. Removed from their larger context, these closely cropped images hone in on the low-cost materials and crude construction of these environments, forcing us to consider how little is required to create a fantasy world that people will believe.
In her later series, The Party’s Over, Kereszi seeks out abandoned sites and the forgotten ephemera from similar venues. We see an old cardboard box containing a disco ball and a plastic shark’s head poking out of the water in a lake behind a sports bar. These stark images are paired with photographs in which Kereszi takes a less direct approach, using windows and reflections to soften the somber tone of the series, positioning them as metaphorical portals to a better time.
Lisa Kereszi was born in 1973 in Chester, Pennsylvania. She received her BA from Bard College in 1995 and her MFA from Yale University in 2000. She was awarded the Baum Award for Best Emerging American Photographer in 2005, and is the author of four monographs: Fantasies (2005); Fun and Games (2009); Joeʼs Junk Yard (2012); and Mourning (2023).
Keresziʼs work has been exhibited at numerous major institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the New Museum, New York; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the International Center of Photography, New York; and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; among others. Her work can be found in many public collections including Museum of Fine Arts Houston; New York Historical Society; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others. She is currently a Senior Critic and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Photography at Yale University.