Exhibition Review: "HOME" Exhibition at Milk Gallery, New York City
By: Scarlett Davis
It might be easy to think of a personal possession that we might save from a burning building. Perhaps, even easier to then explain its significance in the larger tapestry of our lives. Yet ostensibly, it is more difficult to convey an attachment to the smell of pine needles and a flickering memory of beach sand in how it plays a larger subliminal and psychological role in attraction. How does one articulate life’s beautiful idiosyncrasies that lie dormant in one’s psyche from one human to another? Especially, when we are not entirely sure ourselves as to the how or why such things resonate.
Magnum Photos and FUJIFILM Corporation have invited sixteen Magnum Photographers to illustrate both their tangible and intangible definitions and sense of embodiment of the notion of “HOME.” As a part of a world tour, this exhibition “HOME” has its exciting kick-off at the MILK New York City Gallery on view from March 2nd-March 14th, 2018. Witnessing “HOME” is like stepping into sixteen visual storyboards from all experiences and corners of the globe. The word home like love is globally understood and at the end of the day is part of the glue that holds us all together.
Incorporated into the photographers’ unique visceral arrangements of their interpretations of “HOME”, are their detailed narrations and personal stories. It functions as a fascinating glimpse into the human mind; whereby, the exhibit is a kind of photographic smörgåsbord of personal memory with images of children, parenting, birthdays, beaches, rooms, and walls. Photographer David Alan Harvey chooses to showcase his quaint family life and encapsulates upon this fluidity of home by saying, “Yet, even while I might be sitting at a sidewalk café in Paris, in the back of my mind I am thinking of my front porch in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My front porch now is only a few miles from my porch where as a fourteen-year-old I fell in love with photography.” Harvey’s photos stand out in the collection, and his photos feel like perfect snapshots of intimate scenes from daily life.
“HOME” is transient. Some highlights include a step into Elliot Erwitt’s home in South Hampton and his New York City studio apartment, befitting of a Woody Allen set with all of the old-world charm of the city, with his loveable Cuban expat, his dog Canelo who has taken refuge on the artist’s couch. Chien-Chi Chang gives representation to the second and third generation immigrants growing up in the USA with a fantastic array of photos from Chinatown, New York and a memorable photo of rooftop satellite dish adorned with a string of chickens, "airing out" or fermenting. “HOME” is warmth in as much as it is bittersweet, as shown by photographer Mark Power who depicts the moments leading up to his daughter, Chilli, leaving home to get a degree in Fine Art. While “HOME” is also heartbreak for photographer Antoine D’Agata for whom home is colored with fond memories of childhood, but is also complicated by time spent in a rehabilitation clinic. Profoundly, the photographer says going home was a "journey into the heart of darkness." For D'Agata, "HOME" is where the photographer revisited his devout childhood and through a kind of pilgrimage, is reminded of the physical and emotional torment, as evinced by his photos which convey a 'vertiginous descent' into Hell.
The most interesting aspect of this exhibition came down to the subtlety: what miniscule detail did the photographer chose to nuance? These were the details of the narrative which were less apparent to the viewer in their understanding of this individual’s home life or story, such as a shot of a ceramic bowl holding a pair fake eyelashes, mostly likely worn by Mark’s Power’s teenage daughter. The sight of them made one inquire into the photographer’s home life. Perhaps, the eyelashes served as a private family joke, like all teenagers who leave their things around the house, the eyelashes were no different. Russian photographer, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, showcases one large frame of a white wall with an outlet and an attached power cord, almost evoking soviet times. An admirer of Tarkovsky’s film Solaris, the Russian photographer plays with the home of the imagination, implying there is a deeper meaning behind a room and four walls.
“HOME” is an exhibition worth seeing. Most likely, we will all ponder our own perception of home, envisioning what our own visual story boards of home would look like. How does one put into visual form the distinct sound of a back-gate latch opening, the instant smell of jasmines in the garden after a heavy rain storm, an old FM radio that always seems to be playing, or just the inimitable feeling of being enveloped by unconditional love and warmth?
“HOME” includes photographers: Olivia Arthur, Antoine d’Agata , Jonas Bendiksen,Chien-Chi Chang , Thomas Dworzak, Elliott Erwitt, David Alan Harvey, Hiroji Kubota, Alex Majoli,Trent Parke, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Mark Power, Moises Saman, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Alec Soth , and Alex Webb. The collection has also been published into a photobook and is available for purchase.