Photographer Stephen Milanowski's work in the Triennial is a departure from what most local viewers have seen. Known for his frank, unguarded portraits of people in public settings like fairs and parades, Milanowski is represented here by photographs of the built environment, such as factory interiors and business exteriors. "The curators felt that this was unseen work, and they didn't even know I did it," he says. "I hadn't shown it much, but this body of work had been building."
Two of Milanowski's photos document workstations inside Madison's Durline Scales, which had recently closed its doors. "It had just vacated a day or two before the shoot," he says. "It was an eerie feeling...there was still that scent of humanity in the air. You had the sense that someone had just stopped working there, and they might come back at any minute."
While Milanowski was attracted to the industrial workstations and their forms as a kind of "readymade sculpture" à la Duchamp, photographing a recently closed factory almost inherently involves an element of social criticism. "I love social commentary when it's got some subtlety to it," he says.
The same goes for other recent photographs of the built environment. "I've been photographing businesses that are considered kind of predatory, like check-cashing businesses. I'm interested in subtle, straightforward architectural photographs, but you can also read into it what you may."