Temporary Exhibitions, Hood Downtown
Location: Hood Downtown, 53 Main Street, Hanover, NH
Julie Blackmon: The Everyday Fantastic features work from this major American photographer's most recent, and ongoing, series, titled Homegrown. Blackmon was raised in Springfield, Missouri, and has decided to remain there and make that world the setting for her work. She approaches Middle America with a poetic combination of wonder and worry as she explores the perpetual mysteries of daily life in a particular place.
In Homegrown, her third series, Blackmon evokes a domestic world gone just slightly awry. There is nothing disastrous in her mise-en-scenes--yet. But each image suggests potential intrigues that percolate just below the level of the obvious. The artist's brilliance lies in allowing viewers the sense that they are making their own discoveries rather than entering into a world that has been carefully constructed by the artist.
Of course, Blackmon works diligently to ensnare us in just such a conundrum. Her richly detailed photographs depend on careful staging and the acceptance of serendipity. Her works exist somewhat outside of time--or, at least, they are not obviously or specifically of today. We find few clues about our present lives on view. Rather, the "sets" abound with the detritus of pre-Internet play. The children in her narratives get bored, make pretend, stage performances, and generally rely on the imagination to fill their days. Ultimately, the characters in her work mirror in their play the very practice adopted so successfully by the photographer.
John R. Stomberg Ph.D