Agata Popęda here with a little dispatch from Sunset Center, where, at the Center for Photographic Art, a married couple of photographers, Josh Smith and Vanessa Woods, present an exhibition entitled “Each of us was attached to the other”. It’s a delight.
The beauty of this show is above all its subject: the collective body of a family growing together, a collection of simple human shapes, in this case a couple and their three children. All images are black and white and play between light and dark – and this play is key here.
The journey – for the artists and for us spectators – begins with photographs of a pregnant woman’s belly. It is a philosophically impossible situation when a is complete and whole, but is more than itself because it is early of them. From there, a whole universe of questions about where I end and the Other starts opens. The exhibition provokes through this kind of reflections and that is why it is worth taking a look. The fact that we have two artists taking pictures, and sometimes being the object of each other’s art, brings equity to this look at family life.
Avoiding often masked faces for the purpose of taking a photo, Smith’s photos are simple and bare without being erotic. Woods’ work adds his own visions of family intimacy that sometimes take the form of collages, bringing together diverse members in what seems like a tribute, or at least a reflection on unity.
It is clear that, for Smith and Woods, art and family have merged into one big existential project., in which they are partners, taking their three children, Wyatt, Oliver, Luella, on a hell of a journey: intimate, tender and daring. We can all witness what, over the years, will become more and more precious family treasures – images of the bodies of family members changing over time.
Their photos are beautiful and we’re all just wired to react strongly to the sight of a baby’s elbow or the shape of the human ear.
The collection, titled “Remains,” was presented in 2020 in San Francisco, where Smith and Woods met in graduate school nearly 20 years ago. They then presented it as a “dialogue between our bodies of work” and the result of a shared experience as parents and artists. The photographs were taken at home, often spontaneously, documenting the mornings and the crumbling sheets and the light shining on the skin – memorable fragments of eternity.
“‘Vestiges’ is a snapshot of our complex experience of parenthood, which inevitably includes the abandonment and reassessment of identity.,” the artists wrote in the opening statement. “It documents the birth and growth of our children, their evolution and ours.”
The couple live and work in Pacifica. The exhibition will be on view until February 13 and walk-in visitors are welcome, so you’ll have plenty of time to discover it for yourself.
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