Steve Brahms

Statement on How Much? series

These homeless sign works came out of my continued interest in deriving meaning through process and how participation can undermine the life of a material. Transforming not only its meaning as an image but its value as an object. I chose homeless signs as a subject for their universal illustrative style. The signs function as a descriptive tool for a shared experience while also serving as a metaphor that represents the inherent paradoxical nature of a photograph, it’s ability to simultaneously reveal and conceal. Each sign is presented in extreme detail, every word, mark, fold and stain, remnants of experience. Yet we know nothing about the people who wrote on these pieces of trash their story is a mystery, all thats left is the material, a receipt of my transaction.

“How much do you want for that sign?”  The conversation is always short, merely a business deal, there is always a negotiation over the price, the market value fluctuates slightly. Cardboard is always the material. After purchasing the sign I record how much I paid for it and the name of the person I bought it from. I then photograph each sign front and back in my studio and title the images accordingly.

By participating in a materials chain of events we are able to reinstate it’s value, transforming it’s particular use and worth. The cardboard was first produced, then purchased, folded and branded for its original intention, most likely it was used to transport a product. Then when its initial use was over it was disregarded as trash. Then at some point it was found, a story or slogan was written on its side, an advertisement for despair or sympathy. Then it was purchased again, but now it’s image is on the wall of a gallery as a photograph, its meaning has changed along with it’s value.

Steven Brahms

Born: 1982
Raised: Madison, WI
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY


2004 BFA in Photojournalism, Rochester Institute of Technology

Solo Shows

2014 This Friday or Next, THE EVENT, Brooklyn, NY 2014 Kinfolk Dome, Blue Dream, Brooklyn, NY
2011 3
rd Ward Gallery, The Survival Project, Brooklyn, NY

Group Shows

2014 125LIVE, Londoncastle Artspace, London GB
2012 Brancolini Grimaldi, 
There’s Something Happening Here, London GB
2011 Lodret Vandret, Face Head and Shoulders, Copenhagen, Denmark
2011 Slideluck Potshow, 
XVI, New York Photo Festival, Brooklyn, NY
2011 Spacer:Two, 
Upstate Memory, New York, NY
2010 Levis Project Space, 
New Work New York Currated by Tim Barber, New York, NY 2010 The Wassiac Project, Sea Change, Wassiac, NY
2009 Gallery Bar, 
Summer Show, New York, NY
2007 Milk Gallery, 
I Turn My Camera On, New York, NY
2007 North Hall Gallery
, Looking For Levity, New York, NY
2006 3
rd Ward Gallery, Pinned Up, New in Town, New York, NY
2004 Art and Commerce Festival of Emerging Photographers, Brooklyn NY
2004 Space Gallery, 
Group Show, Rochester, NY
2004 Wallace Library Gallery, 
Honors Show, Rochester, NY


2013 GUP 036, Survival / Evasion Guide To Unique Photography, Amsterdam
Pretty Young Thing, Vandret Publications, Copenhagen
2012 Design Bureau, The Flip Side of Roughing it: The Survival Project, Jan/Feb Issue
2011 The Evasion Studies Box Set, Self Published
2011 Kinki Magazine, Cover, January Issue
Time Of Your Life, Box Set Published by Queso Frito, New York, NY
2009 Photo District News, 
Right Stuff Photographers Gone Wild, August Issue
The Collectors Guide To Emerging Art Photography, Published by the Humble Arts Foundation, New York, NY 2004 Lion On The Wall, Self-Published, Rochester NY

Awards / Fellowships

2012 Aaron Siskind Independent Photographers Fellowship Recipient 2010 3rd Ward Early Entry Winter Grant Recipient