Angela Strassheim's STORY TELLING Set for Andrea Meislin Gallery, Now thru 10/26
Andrea Meislin Gallery will present Story Telling, a survey exhibition spanning over a decade of work by photographer Angela Strassheim from today, Sept. 12 - Oct.26. Featuring a selection of both new and old works, Story Telling includes twelve photographs and a site-specific replica of the artist's grandmother's closet.
Originally from small town Mid-America, Strassheim has emerged as a powerful documenter of our nation's domestic culture. Leveraging her familiarity with Pan-America's religious and socioeconomic idiosyncrasies, she trains her lens past the obviously saccharine and jars us with her portrayal of alternate Americana.
Strassheim's images describe stories within the stories that are their backdrop. War legends, battle tales and romantic sagas elapse within chronicles of static bachelordom, anxious childhood, provocative adolescence and irritable paternity. In Storytelling, a gaggle of blond boys squirm impatiently, gripped in the throes of a hunting tale while further along the wall, in Butterfly, a young boy tenderly handles a delicate injured insect. Girl Found in Bed is an adolescent girl sprawled nude across her bed. Reminiscent of Courbet's L'Origine du Monde, she embodies our collective coming of age narrative. Across the room, Isabelle in the Window is apprehended in ambiguously motivated mid undress. Is she innocently exposed or an intentional performer for a familiar voyeur? In Garage, a mother's eyes glaze over, with exhaustion, tension, or both - her husband riveted - while their three children slumber in the back seat. Three of the tales in Strassheim's Story Telling emerge from her Evidence series - forensic family portraits documenting domestic homicides. And around the corner, Strassheim's grandmother's closet emits the low static hum that is the skene to her portraits looking on. At the center of the room are five hearts, posthumous, forensic portraits of this most sensitive, most critical of organs. Like Angela's work, these hearts encapsulate the whole within the part. Each heart is the fulcrum of its owner's life; each image, the core of its story.
Story Telling is situated in the land before time, a strange, liminal, Jungian dream- or nightmare- scape, in no-time and every-place, where humans make decisions and form identities. It is the same place from whence the ritual of storytelling derives. It is here that Strassheim challenges us to confront our societal conventions, engaging in a study of comparative domesticity that ultimately aims to empower us in overcoming routine and reassessing the minutiae of our living.
Image: Angela Strassheim, Untitled (Garage), 2007, Archival pigment ink print, 40 x 50 inches.