Earlier this fall, I saw Caleb Cole speak at the Somerville Armory, and I was fascinated by the work that he showed there. Part of his series Other People’s Clothes, the color photographs featured Caleb playing a cast of diverse characters, each of which originated, he says, from the clothing, mostly found in thrift stores.
Regardless of what he’s wearing — from oversized men’s suits to a child’s pajamas to hunting gear to a dominatrix’s patent leather dress and heels — Cole appears equal parts himself and someone else: he’s there and not there, comfortable and awkward. By trying on so many other lives, Cole questions how identities are found and maintained.
On view at Boston’s Gallery Kayafas through November 24 are two new projects that continue to explore these issues. In Odd One Out, Cole isolates out-of-place looking figures in vintage group photographs, and in Dolls, he alters dolls in his own image.
Caleb and I spoke in his kitchen about how his own appearance and history inform the work, about letting questions drive a project, and about why seeing men in dresses makes people laugh.
Note: Wilton accidentally referred to Cole's show as Odd Man Out in the podcast. We regret the mistake.