Ersatz: [er-zahts]: An artificial substance or article used to replace something natural or genuine; a substitute.
Ersatz is a photographic exploration about how architecture influences those who inhabit it. This work examines artificial features that are incorporated into publicly accessible commercial and institutional environments, most of which are designed in a Brutalist style, utilizing poured concrete. My photographs represents an attempt to mitigate the effect of structures that, while functional, are essentially cold flat featureless boxes. They also draw the viewer’s attention to the presence of these ersatz elements in modern architectural spaces.
In the environments I photograph, elements have been added to simulate comfort to those people who pass through the spaces. Some are of a more physical or sensory kind, such as a place for people to sit or a design feature to look at. However, most ersatz elements relate to the connection of humans to nature. The place to sit or thing to look at becomes a place to look at nature or a representation thereof.
Nate Mathews studied at Columbia College Chicago where he received his M.F.A. in Photography in 2008. In addition to making art, he teaches Photography at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.