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Photography and Home

June 26th - September 21st

Home is where photography started - Joseph Nicéphore Niépce pointed his camera out a window at his estate to create one of our first permanent photographs. Home is an interesting concept - one that refers to a physical space, and more importantly  a psychological one. As they say - it's where the heart is and where they have to take you in. You steal home, become homesick - you're a homegirl - the name alone has power. It is at once very personal and political, cultural and universal. 


Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, View from the Window at Le Gras, 1826.


© Josef Sudek, Window Sill, U. Bär Verlag, 1993

Josef Sudek was a photographer who mined his personal space for decades. The studio, where he lived and worked for most of his life, became his muse and he created multiple series focusing on this place of light and shadow. One of my favorite series is The Window of My Studio because it showed the quiet moments that one experiences wherever they call home.

When I think about interesting approaches to the physical aspect of home, John Divola's Zuma Series comes to mind. This series was shot in the 1970s, when he had stumbled upon an abandoned house at Zuma Beach in Malibu. His approach to this space was something between documentation and installation as he injected his own marks and then recorded the changes over time. His use of color and flash is in stark contrast to Sudek's soft b&w tonalities - and I see both as reflections of what was happening in photography at the time.

The concept of home is not always one of calm and security - Ananké Asseff, a photographer from Argentina has a fascinating series called Potential, where she has photographed middle and upper-class people in their homes and each one is holding a gun. I saw the work at the Getty, almost life-sized prints and you feel the tension between their calm demeanor, the comfortable home and the gun.


Contemporary projects exploring home often go beyond still media to incorporate audio, film and interactive components. Project 562, is transmedia project created by photographer Matika Wilber (Swinomish and Tulalip) with the goal of representing Native American people from every sovereign territory in the United States. Driving across the country, she meets with "people in their own ancestral homelands" to humanize our understanding of Native peoples and share the stories that they want told.

In this showcase, we have themes of inner and outer life, with some projects becoming a bridge between both. Many of the artists in this showcase are examining their past, connecting to spaces and places that were formative to who they are as individuals. Often this contains a sense of dislocation and a fight to preserve one’s own personal or political culture in the face of the larger world they must navigate. From PhotoBook Journal we have an excellent group of reviews, with selections from Gerhard Clausing, Douglas Stockdale and their team of contributing editors on books exploring this theme.

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