(wwl) family oddities

May 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Not long ago, I was in Marseille enjoying the various installations and exhibitions organized there for Marseille-Provence 2013 (Marseille being the European capital of Culture this year). There I discovered a short photographic exhibition of Delphine Balley‘s work, a French photographer from Romans (south of France).

L’Album de Famille (“The Family Album”) was quite an experience. Although only some of the pictures were exhibited, the series was quite captivating. In this collection of photographs, Delphine Balley stages her family after a fictional event: her own death (by assassination). This is the starting-point for a narrative that will allow interpretations and distortions of family stories.

L'assassinat (The assassination)

L’assassinat (The assassination)

Set in a traditional French house, the photographs convey a feeling of oppression and strangeness more than anything else. But at the same time, the images are meticulously arranged, so that every little detail seem to tell their own version of the story. The family history here seems to become legendary and symbolic through a narrative close to the detective story (someone is trying to find out who killed Delphine and why – and the answer must lie in the darkest corners of the house).

Les tâches quotidiennes (Daily occupations)

Les tâches quotidiennes (Daily occupations)

The series possesses a sense of the macabre, of course, since it is all based on the artist’s death. But most of all, through its blind characters, it evokes the sensation one can feel when prisoner of one’s family. It is interesting to note that the series is marked out with either translucency or obstruction (e.g. The transparent child or the husband-hider), so that (clear)vision is never easy. Masks are everywhere, elements indistinct, thus suggesting that secrecy lies in the corners of the family house. Of course, every family has its secrets, as is well known.

Delphine Bailley’s photographs embody the uncanny in its most literal sense, since the familiar becomes completely strange through the prism of her lens. It is all the more captivating than the family is twice, if not thrice, exposed (as in a mise-en-abîme) to observers: to Delphine Bailley herself, to her interpretation through the camera and eventually to the eye of the stranger who enters the cracks of a hidden story.

La réunion de famille (Family reunion)

La réunion de famille (Family reunion)

______

To read a short presentation of the series: http://www.delphineballey.com/l-album-de-famille/

And to view the full gallery and the fictional short story of Delphine’s death (in French): http://www.delphineballey.com/l-album-de-famille/galerie/

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