Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn have been collaborating as Kahn/Selesnick since 1988 on a series of complex narrative photo-novellas and sculptural installations. They were both born in 1964, in New York City and London respectively and both are British citizens. They met at Washington University in St Louis where they collaborated informally from 1982-86 as photography majors. After graduation and a couple of years of showing their art separately they migrated to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to work on an evolving series of projects, some painting based, some photo based, all involving fictional attributions, narratives and sculpture. Between 1988 and 1995 they worked on installations combining painted portraits on plaster panels, bread, honey and wax sculptures displayed in wooden ritual architecture. A residency at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown Massachusetts helped them create an elaborate full-scale oaken chapel; ‘Der Ruteloft des Bet’ubten Bienenkaisers (The Rood-Loft of the Drunken Beekeeper) with 120 painted panels, all of heads in profile sprouting psychoactive plants from their mouths.
Tiring of working on painting locked up in a studio, they searched for a technique to better bring the narratives to life and returned to staged photography. Experimenting on Selworthy Beacon in Somerset, England they found that shooting a 360 degree panorama could more faithfully create a truer, more cinematic sense of the place, while their manipulation of costume, props and period color would help them alter the sense of time.