With cameras, that is.
In the current show at Page Bond Gallery, photographers Emmet and Elijah Gowin explore the same subject, a beloved aunt at the family homestead in Danville, Va. The photos are magical and sweet, taking us to a time and place where women wear housecoats and clothes are hung on lines. Do people really live like this? And if so, can we come over for some pie?
Father Emmet is a well known black-and-white photographer who’s been a mentor to Sally Mann (her son is named after him). His photos of Aunt Maggie were taken in the ’70s, like this one above. A similarity between his work and Mann’s can be seen in their everyday subject matter and the fact that there’s often some peculiarity lending the average scenes some intrigue.
Son Elijah, who just won a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, takes a more magical approach to his work. He took pictures of Maggie 10 years ago, putting her in strange hand-crafted scenarios he created with salvaged materials (like “Maggie and Orbs” at top). In the past he often digitally enhanced images he found online. His last show at Page Bond, “Watered,” in October 2006, featured images of baptisms he found and manipulated. The half-submerged subjects were startling and exciting. Were these people being drowned or saved?
Another series of his work which inspires the same unsettling emotions is “Of Falling and Floating” from 2007. And in our post-9/11 world it’s hard not to think of the World Trade Center jumpers, yet there’s something joyful about them, too.