Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Elinor Carucci: Born @Wolf

JTF (just the facts): A total of 21 color photographs, framed in white and unmatted or unframed and pinned directly to the wall, and hung in the single room gallery space. All of the prints are archival pigment prints, made between 2004 and 2008. The prints are either 17x22 or 30x44/36x44 (or reverse), both in editions of 8. There are 14 prints in the small size and 7 prints in the large size on display. (Installation shots at right.)

Comments/Context: Elinor Carucci's images of her life as a young mother have an unadorned bluntness that is alternately tender and disconcerting. The harsh realities of her pregnancy, birth, breast feeding, and early motherhood have an honest intensity that is often uncomfortable to watch, her private struggles splashed across the gallery with startling vulnerability. The pictures often center on physical skin to skin touches between herself and her children, getting up close and personal in capturing small moments of intimacy.

Given a few emotion-heavy pictures of her twins with runny noses, bruised lips and crying eyes, I can see how some have drawn a superficial parallel between this work and that of Sally Mann. But I think that's a significant misreading of what's going on. These pictures are almost entirely about the mother; even the images which only show the kids are really indirect portraits of Carucci and how she is feeling and reacting, examining her perspective of being stretched to the breaking point. We travel the entire road from her bulging belly and hospital gown to the c-section scars and the breast feeding harness, and her acute closeness and protectiveness as a mother is reflected in every gesture and touch, even when the sense of being exhausted and overwhelmed takes over.

These photographs have a potency and extremity that will be too much for some; Carucci's directness certainly has the ability to stun and agitate. But this high-strung reality is what makes the pictures so successful; she's crossed into territory where the truth is laid bare, where its tough combination of boundless love and draining weariness is exposed. You may decide that an image of her belly after giving birth isn't something you want to hang on your wall, but the authenticity of her experience is joltingly memorable.
Collector's POV: The prints on view are priced based on size, with the smaller 17x22 prints at $3000 each and the larger 30x44/36x44 prints at $5500 each. Carucci's work has very little secondary market history, so gallery retail is likely the only option for interested collectors at this point.

Rating: ** (two stars) VERY GOOD (rating system described here)
Transit Hub:
Through November 5th
528 West 28th Street
New York, NY 10001

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