Art and Photography
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
1000 Families2 ¼32 Stories365 Days51 Months5x7A Child's Life and Other StoriesA Couple of Ways of Doing SomethingA Lifetime of SecretsA Storybook LifeA Treasury of Victorian MurderActing OutAddiction and ArtAEIOUAfter PhotographyAliveAlive with Alzheimer'sAlone Together POCAltered StatesAmazing WomenAmelia's WorldAmerica at HomeAmerican AlphabetsAmnesiaAn American LensAn Exact MindAngel's WorldAngry Youth Comix #2Anjos ProibidosAnthony GoicoleaArchitecture of AuthorityArt After Conceptual ArtArt and HomosexualityArt and PhotographyArt in Three DimensionsArt Photography NowArt, Self and KnowledgeArt/PornAs We AreAsylumAttitudeAutoportraitBecoming Edvard MunchBeg the QuestionBelugaBerkoBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBill HensonBlab!Blab! 13BLAB! Vol. 14BLAB! Vol. 15BlanketsBoneyardBoneyardBoy StoriesBreakdownsBright EarthBrüselBurn, Bitchy, BurnBus OdysseyBut Is It Art?CanvasCaricatureChildrenChris VereneChristy ReportCinema PanopticumClass PicturesClick DoubleclickCloserClumsyClyde Fans CoincidencesComing of AgeComing of Age in Ancient GreeceConceptual Art and PaintingConfessions of a Cereal EaterConsider LoveCouch FictionCrumpleCzech EdenCzech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918-1948Dan & LarryDargerDays With My FatherDead EndDear MomDeus Ex MachinaDigital DiariesDirty StoriesDisasters of WarDixie RoadDomestic VacationsDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDon't You Feel BetterDr. Jekyll & Mr. HydeDrawingsDriftlessEcstasyEdouard VuillardEnduring CreationEngland, My EnglandEntering GermanyEpilepticErwin OlafEscape from "Special"EVAEverything Will DisappearEvidenceExploring the Self through PhotographyExposureExpressionism Exquisite CorpseFamilyFamilyFamily LifeFandomaniaFaster than a Speeding BulletFictionsFigure and GroundFragile DVDFred the ClownFreud at WorkFridaFrom Girls to GrrlzFun HomeGeneration DadaGirl CultureGirls, Some Boys and Other CookiesGood-ByeGraphic WomenGrave MattersH R GigerHans BellmerHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHauntedHere Is New YorkHey, Wait...High Art LiteHollywood CowboyHouse of JavaI Am Not This BodyI Love You But I've Chosen RockI Thought I Could FlyI'll Be Your MirrorI'm CrazyIllumineIn My Darkest HourIn Search Of DignityIn the Floyd ArchivesIn the Line of DutyInformation ArtsIntenseInvisible No MoreIt Was A Dark And Silly NightJack Cole and Plastic ManJimmy CorriganJock SturgesJock SturgesJust Between UsKafkaKatharina SieverdingLacan at the SceneLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLife's a BitchLight in the Dark RoomLine of Beauty and GraceListening to CementLittle LitLi’l SantaLoadsLooking For MayaLost GirlLouis FaurerLouise BourgeoisLove and DesireLove Lust DesireLuckyManufactured LandscapesMass ObservationMaster BreastsMetacreationMisty DawnMnemosyneMomeMona KuhnMy Brain is Hanging Upside DownMy DepressionMy Family AlbumNatural BeautiesNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew and Used BLAB!New York September 11Night FisherNightswimmingNo More ShavesNotes from a DefeatistNothing ObviousNothing to HideNudes and PortraitsOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn City StreetsOne EyeOnly a Promise of HappinessOptic NerveOptic Nerve #11Optic Nerve #9Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & PiratesOutsider ArtPanic at Toad HallPatrolPaul M. SmithPeculiaPeekPeople Love PhotosPerfect ExamplePersepolisPhilosophersPhonesexPhoto ArtPhoto Icons I (1827-1926)Photographers, Writers, and the American ScenePhotography and LiteraturePhotography and PhilosophyPhotography and SciencePhotography and the USA Photography RebornPicturing DisabilityPlaytimePOPismPostmodernismPsychedelicQuestions without answersRaptors Raw YouthRay's a LaughRazmatazReclining NudeRed SnowRemembering GeorgyRequisite DistanceRineke DijkstraRippleRobert Doisneau 1912-1994Robert MaxwellRoom to PlaySame Difference & Other StoriesSanctumSatan's Sex BookSatellitesSchizophreniaSee Me Feel MeSelf-Taught and Outsider ArtSexSexual ArtSexyBookShadow ChamberSidewalk StoriesSkin DeepSleepwalkSmall FavorsSmile of the BuddhaSpectral EvidenceSpentSshhhh!Stranded in CantonStrange Stories for Strange Kids Stranger PassingStripped BareSummer BlondeSurrealismSymbols in ArtTestimonyThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe AlcoholicThe Art InstinctThe Art of Adolf WolfliThe Art of MedicineThe BabiesThe Birthday RiotsThe Blue Day BookThe Blue NotebookThe BodyThe Body as ProtestThe Boulevard of Broken DreamsThe Breast BookThe Breathing FieldThe Bristol Board JungleThe Clouds AboveThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Education of SophieThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Face in the LensThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Madonna of the FutureThe Mirror of LoveThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New LifeThe Other PlaceThe Philosophy of Andy WarholThe Places We LiveThe Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious BrainThe Push Man and Other StoriesThe Scar of VisibilityThe September 11 Photo ProjectThe Shiniest JewelThe Speed AbaterThe Steerage and Alfred StieglitzThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Story of SexThe Stuff of LifeThe Three ParadoxesThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Transparent CityThe TravelersThe ValleyThe Van Gogh BluesThe Wolves in the WallsThe Yellow HouseThinThings as They AreThinking of YouTierney GearonTime and SilenceTina's MouthTits, Ass, and Real EstateTransitionTrauma and Documentary Photography of the FSATravelersTropical BlendTwentieth Century EightballTwilightUnlikelyVagina WarriorsVernacular VisionariesVietnam At PeaceVisual CultureVitamin PhWar Is Only Half the StoryWhat Are You Looking At?What Art IsWhat Good Are the Arts?What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWho Am I, What Am I, Where Am I?William KentridgeWillie DohertyWithWriters on ArtistsYoung PhotographerZip Zip My Brain Harts

Related Topics
Domestic VacationsReview - Domestic Vacations
by Julie Blackmon
Radius Books, 2008
Review by Christian Perring
Sep 9th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 37)

I saw Julie Blackmon's exhibition "Domestic Vacation" at the Claire Oliver Gallery in Manhattan, and her photographs were immediately impressive for their humor and their portrayal of the weirdness of modern family life.  One of the most striking pictures is not directly included in her book of the same name: "American Gothic" has a man, a woman and two small children posing for the camera.  The woman holds a baby who is looking away; the man holds a little boy upside down by his ankles.  Next to them is a bird making the picture especially incongruous.  They are dressed in black and white, and stand against a wall with painted portraits on it, so it looks as if they were posing for a family picture.  The man looks very stern, the woman looks slightly harried, and we get the impression this is the most formal pose they can manage.   The children and teens are the focus of these pictures; at the easiest level of interpretation, the pictures show them disrupting family life with their crazy antics, and we might see them simply as a reflection of modern family life.  In "The Baby Sitter" a boy sits at a dining table looking at a laptop with a wide-eyed and uncomfortable look on his face, and another boy looks on holding his head, and the supervising teen girl (just out of shot) just listens to her iPod.  In "The Hill," a man in shades crouches down on the grass smoking a cigarette striking  a pose,  a younger girl lies on the grass looking away, and a little girl chases after an old pram going down the hill in the background.  In "High Chair," a baby in a huge orange diaper, holding some food, stands precariously and overconfidently in a large wooden high chair while someone, out of shot, sweeps the kitchen. 

Yet these are not true-life pictures of family life, and they are about much more than the silly and scary things that kids do.  There's some cultural commentary here: looking carefully, one finds references to many of the brand-named items that fill our homes:  Sony Play Station, Apple Computers, Hershey's Kisses, Revlon, Sephora, and several times, Target, whose TV advertisements have been so successful at giving us a vision of the happy consumer.   Much in Blackmon's work here echoes the exuberance of those Target ads, but of course, there's a darker tone to them, even if it undercuts itself.  In "Flying Umbrellas," two umbrellas in the Target red and white colors fly away with a woman in a bikini in the background reaching up for them, while in the foreground, a boy stands next to a swimming pool looking up at the sky with binoculars and a girl paddles in the pool.  There's a toy shark by the side of the pool, but what looks to be a small yet real shark in the pool.  In "Stolen Kiss," an older child is taking away a giant silver-wrapped piece of chocolate, while a younger child stands at the bottom of the stairs crying her eyes out.   We at least get the impression that these products create some dangers and additional frustrations.  In a great many of these images, people are not interacting with each other, but each lives in their own separate world, despite being in the same space.  We see three girls in the same room in "Saturday," but they are not even looking at each other: one is reading a magazine, another is listening to an iPod, and the third sits on top of a sofa looking bored.  The idea that modern life is an isolating one not improved by the consumer society is certainly a theme for this set of works. 

This sense of a flawed reality is emphasized by the feel of the images.  Most of them have a lovely color palette and well-ordered composition.   They have a sense of artificiality though, and this often comes from the use of a computer graphics program to create the images.  In many cases, it is clear from the crisp edges of images of people or the backgrounds that they have been cut and pasted into the picture.  Even when there are no signs of computer work, the formality of the composition is very distinctive.  In "Bubble Tape," a young boy sits at the end of a long wooden table preparing to lower a pink tape into his mouth while someone else is coming in to continue laying the table.  There is a dresser, a painting, and a set of candles on the wall behind them.  Because of the bareness, it looks like no one's real home, but rather more as a symbol of a home, and is highly stylized.  Nearly every picture in the book has a similar feel, adding an air of surrealism to the work. 

Despite the cracks in perfection, Blackmon is not attempting a major political critique of the construction of childhood and family life.  The images are amusing rather than didactic, and very often they are completely dominated by the beauty or quirkiness of the children, and in other cases, the images are notable primarily for the arrangement of people or objects.  The other themes filter into one's perception with some subtlety.   There's an illuminating interview with Blackmon by Alison Nordstrom about the relation between her work and her life experience coming from large family and having three children of her own, and in their discussion, Blackmon cites Sally Mann as one of her primary influences.  While Blackmon's work is far more obviously stylized than Mann's, it is possible to see the connection between the two photographers in their both providing a transfixing portrayal of everyday life.   Domestic Vacation is a remarkable and attractive collection that deserves attention.

Links:

·                     Julie Blackmon website  

·                     Catherine Edleman Gallery

·                     Claire Oliver Gallery

·                     Radius Books

© 2008 Christian Perring

Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716