Lili Jamail: Rollercoaster at Team Gallery
By Emilia Pesantes
The intimacy of Lili Jamail’s photographs is amplified by the small room they hang in. Organized in a space in the back of SoHo’s Team Gallery, the seven-photo collection, titled Rollercoaster, showcases Jamail’s exploration into the human mind – mainly her own. Through a series of portraits, both of people and natural landscapes, Jamail expresses a succession of emotions that ranges from turmoil to tranquility. The gallery’s curators surely understand the scope of these emotions and the way in which her images are meant to be read. This is clear by the way the images are placed in such careful proximity of one another, toying with certain photos’ relationships and demanding even the most casual of viewers to draw connections.
Viewers sense these feelings as the room begins with a pair of photos, close enough to one another that they should be read in conjunction. The first photo, titled “Penny Nails,” depicts a seated woman’s still arm and hand. A strip of light illuminates the mystery woman’s upper thigh and hand but calls the audience’s attention to her sharp blue nails that, if taken at another hour, might otherwise be shrouded in the rest of the photo’s shadowy darkness. Beside this, the second photo, “Two Bends,” shows thin thorny branches curving on a bed of dead leaves in a rather menacing forest of bare and barely-focused trees. The subjects mimic one another in form and color, nails paralleling thorns while the arm parallels the branches. In this way, the gallery recognizes that Jamail’s treatment of both subjects seems to be equal; one is meant to inform the other. The emotional state provoked is reminiscent of the dreadful journey up to a rollercoaster’s first drop, chaotic in feeling but, in actuality, carefully approached.
By the end of the whole photo sequence, viewers are met with a picture of a girl sleeping peacefully in a moving car. Next to her, there is a smaller sized photo of a single, almost stoic, bonsai tree. Once again, image informs image and the rollercoaster ride slows into its final moments with a long and relieving exhale. The only photo, in fact, that serves as an individual, to be considered only for what it is and not for what it hangs besides, is the image of a girl swathed in white, issuing a Mona Lisa-like expression.
Although the exhibit’s title name suggests a rapidly changing movement, the movement in Jamail’s images is invisible – hiding behind every subject’s stillness.