Picture of the Day | Priya Kambli

posted by Bridget on 05 April 2012

In support of Fotofest 2012, the Houston Centre for Photography has three exhibitions, which together offer different views of family and the home.

Julie Blackmon's "The Power of Now and Other Tales from Home"; Bastienne Schmidt's "Home Stills" and Priya Kambli's "Color Falls Down" provide three distinct approaches, not just to their subject, but also in the way photographers use the medium to make their art.

Blackmon's highly coloured, highly staged, with a nod to the commercial slick of the advertising photographer, constructed scenes of family life are a commentary on the contrivance of the modern home and the pressures of conforming to the perfection found in the glossy lifestyle magazines.

julie blackmon

Blackmon's photographs are extremely well made, but for my taste a little too knowing. With everything on the surface I am not sure whether they move beyond being simply a pastiche of glossy editorial photography they are seeking to send up.

Bastinenne Schmidt's "Home Stills", like Blackmon, are a series of constructed images. But these are much more whimsical and fluid. There is an ambiguity built into the series; aesthetically beautiful they question ideas of gender stereotypes, suggesting an uncomfortable relationship for the female subject between being a woman, mother and wife.

Bastienne schmidt

The dreamy quality of the imagery allows the viewer to reach into the photograph, beyond its surface and inhabit the story with their own day dreams and memories.

The last of the three photographers is also a woman, Priya Kambli, suggesting that the subject of domesticity is the province of women. This is a shame and a weakness of the curation. It would have made a more interesting show to have included a different voice.

That being said, I was pleased to have been introduced to Priya Kambli's work. Her simple montages of new and old family photographs set against domestic totems, displayed a real understanding of visual language and the lyrical diptychs are delightful.

Priya Kambri

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