New York-based photographer Lori Nix and her artistic partner Kathleen Gerber build their own post-apocalyptic world for an incredibly realistic photo series called The City.
The photographer’s lifelong fascination with the end of the world is brought to life through dioramas.
Each scene is a depiction of an ordinary setting that has been demolished and reclaimed by Mother Nature.
Instead of a packed laundromat, there’s an abandoned, desecrated and decaying room with a solitary rat in the center—an homage to the rodents’ prevalence in New York.
Nix also draws inspiration from her childhood in Kansas, recalling the muted, pinkish hues of beauty shops.
Gerber adds dirt and accents each structure with visible marks of distress and weathering.
The lifelike models are all constructed by hand out of extruded foam, glue, and latex paint.
Each diorama ranges in size from 18×24 inches to 9×10 feet.
The columns in this particular model are two feet tall and they are accompanied by four Breyer model horses for the fountain.
Each scene can take up to 7 months to create and 2 weeks to capture the perfect shot.
Besides just constructing the architecture, there are also fine details within the strewn objects to add.
This diorama of a library being reclaimed by the earth is a favorite amongst viewers for the intricate details. The books, individually carved out of foam, took an entire summer to create.
This piece presents a more experimental view of an apocalypse by adding a rogue pterodactyl in the sky.
Nix admits that a lot of her work gains inspiration from 1970s disaster and apocalyptic sci-fi films like “Planet of the Apes” and “The Poseidon Adventure.”
This aesthetic is oddly perfect for the dystopian future the series foreshadows.
The world is crumbling and no one is around the save it.
There is both a frightening, ominous element and a familiarity to the series as moss and foliage overtakes recognizable establishments like a mall.
Living in New York, Nix says, “I imagined the 7 train being abandoned out on the platform long enough so that it was flooded by sand and wind.”
Taking the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina, she imagines a beautiful setting overwhelmed by mildew and mold.
The series even shows what the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens might look like if no one were around to maintain it.
Once the scene is fully built and captured with a large-format camera, each diorama is deconstructed and discarded to make room for the next project. Having begun this series in 2005, Nix and Gerber intend to continue it for at least another year before finally ending it.