It was another mundane afternoon. In between Googleing myself and writing cheesy comments under my friends’ status updates, I stumbled upon a page on Facebook, which was like no other page I have ever seen. My first impulse was to minimize the tab, in case I was reported for being watching porn at work. Gathering my guts, when I reopened the tab and scrolled down, I was introduced to a genre of for which I don’t have any name. Hence, to me and to the thousands of fans following that page the genre is known by the name of the page itself - ‘I Must Be Dead Photography’.
Recently I got a chance to interview the man behind ‘I Must Be Dead Photography’. The person in question is McKay Jaffe an expert with words and. ‘I Must Be Dead’ is his tag name and he operates his Facebook account and website through this sardonic name. When asked why he quite blissfully hides his identity, he answered back “I do not hide my name, life, or personal information. I just don’t advertise them. I am building the brand and name of “I Must Be Dead” and so real my name is not important. Some people who dig enough figure it out, and wear it at some sort of badge of honor I guess haha, but if you just ask I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.”
27 year old Mckay not only has a huge fan following in Phoenix, Arizona, but is already immensely popular all over the world – thanks to the social networking platforms; today he has more than 10,212 followers. But, his ride was never too smooth. He had worked as Digital Tech support or as Editor initially. Today, he has his own portfolio spread across the web and believes that “In the next year or two I can just live off of art sales solely, which is really fucking ridiculous. I once did an art sale for two days and didn’t sell a single thing, so it is amazing to me to see how things are developing these days”
Browsing through his works on his Facebook page or even his website will present an alternate view of reality, which is too curious. He plays with extremes and either adapts to loud colors and extreme lighting or simply goes for the white washed effect. His subjects and themes are not only different but imperceptible. The story told through each and every work presents us with questions and makes us pause for sometime. Blood, skin, Human body, eyes, tongue etc all seems to be too ordinary things for all of us.
However, they seem to occupy the centre stage in Jaffe’s works. His ability to speak his mind and speak without inhibitions is that unique characteristic that each and every work of his reveals. He has set out on the journey of realizing his dreams, though he himself claims that even 5 years back he did not know that this would give him the recognition he deserved. “I think dreams are a funny thing, everyone grows up wanting to be somebody and make lots of money while doing something they love, yet this is not the outcome for a majority of people.
So yes I have always aspired to be successful in something, but have always questioned whether I was just another dreamer. It is painful for me to watch someone not follow their dreams, I don’t see how it is even possible to not do so, and I suppose I am fortunate mine are in some fashion panning out.”
He calls himself a ‘social Chameleon’ and reflecting back to his childhood he claims that he was always used to living a dual lifestyle, as his parents got divorced when he was very young.
Then again, his attitude towards life and his straight forward yet obscure nature has been responsible for such creative photographic endeavor. You will be offended, invoked and instigated, but never for once will you be able to ignore him or his surreal craft.
Written by: Anurima Das
Art and pictures by: McKay Jaffe