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The Hidden Fortress

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jana
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i discovered elinor carucci thanks to this article in the guardian. got me thinking about a lot of things. here are excerpts that i've been thinking about since i read it:

 

The result, Diary of a Dancer, shows her travelling on the subway in her bellydancing regalia, applying her make-up in bleak washrooms, whirling across dancefloors before a jubilant crowd. Naturally, the process of simultaneously dancing and photographing proved problematic. "I tried different things, like asking strangers to take the photographs, and it didn't work," she says. "So I asked my husband, Eran, to help. And he really doesn't like weddings."

 

Eran Bendheim, also a photographer, accompanied her to some performances. "It started with me being very controlling because I was afraid it won't be my photograph," Carucci says. "I was like, 'Stand here, and when I make a sign ... '" She soon realised that her interference was proving detrimental. "Bellydancing - it's not like the New York City Ballet, when you know what you're going to do with it. I could be at the other end of the room, or on the table. We couldn't plan it. He had to follow me round and take pictures so I said, 'OK, so some of it will be your work.'"

 

Though many of her pictures are staged, Carucci's work somehow retains an intense spontaneity. "I learned that it doesn't matter if images are staged or not. It doesn't make them more or less truthful. We make unconscious decisions about how we want to be photographed." She sometimes looks at her self-portraits and sees "that I presented something that is very true. And usually the ones that don't work, it's because they're not honest; the light is beautiful, the colours are beautiful, but they're not honest."

 

"I guess it's a combination of the way I was at home - the way my mom or dad would walk around in their underwear, or after their bath naked. It's not like we're living our lives naked, it's just before the shower, where I can walk into the bathroom in my underwear and ask my father something. It's so, so normal and I thought that most families are like that. I realised only after I took those images how unusual it is, because of how shocked people were by my photographs. I realise that some of my pictures were more provocative - like me and my father naked. Even for us, that was a bit weird. But images of me and my mum naked? I'm like, 'What's the big deal? You've never seen your mum naked?' And many people said no. I was really surprised."

 

She did not set out to be provocative, but did realise that some pictures might nudge certain taboos. "My father is a man and my brother is a man, and there are tensions underneath that we don't even dare to think about. I wanted to photograph that it could be so everyday but it could still have this tension or awkwardness." And occasionally taking the photographs proved a little strange. "Once the camera is there, they become weird moments. If I'm naked, no one pays much attention. But if I bring the camera, everyone is much more aware."

 

The first image in the series she titled And If I Don't Get Enough Attention, which shows her naked and staring straight at the camera, lying on top of a sleeping Eran, whose clothes almost blend in with the dark blue sofa. "This," she says, "was the first image where I knew I was thinking about our situation, and I knew that I was thinking of things that were happening to me that he didn't know. The camera at the time knew more than my husband."

 

carucci's husband's photographs can be seen at his website, eran.com.

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I'd never heard of her, but that article raises some very interesting points - the nudity issue especially is something I can imagine a lot of people getting out of their prams about. Thanks for sharing jana.

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well, shoot me for being a prude, but my mum and i have not hung around in our underwear much. :p

 

though for me, that wasn't so much of an issue. i think it's interesting to note the "tension" she speaks of when talking about her father and brother being naked with her. but more than the nudity, what i was thinking about was the idea of using her family as intimately as she does in her photographs. like she mentions in the article that she and eran brandheim (her husband) were fighting about something and it suddenly struck her that this would be a good photograph and so she rigged up her camera. that's what i find more ... problematic. somehow, at a gut level, i almost feel like she's exploiting her family for a photograph. actually, exploiting is too strong a word. but it's like she's exposing them on one hand and on the other hand, i'm fascinated by the blurred division between private life and public art. it's courageous and gutsy and while it's not a novel idea, she keeps a raw intimacy to her photographs which is really lovely.

 

please do see eran brandheim's site as well. i think his work is as powerful, if not more on occasion. most of the pictures in her "diary of a dancer" series are taken by him though the concept was entirely hers.

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i am a bit too rushed to make much sense i am afraid, but i think that when photography is one of your main ways of dealing with the world, taking pictures might be simply that. taking a picture is a way to work with a situation, not necessarily exploiting it.

 

writers use a lot of their private life to work with, too, only in that case it is much easier to veil the fact that it is indeed your life (and that of the ones near to you) that ends up in your work.

 

no idea if it makes sense, have to come back later :roll:

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  • 9 months later...

I went to Elinor's site and looked at the pix. I really like them, love some. I like the idea of capturing those fleeting everyday mundane moments, like the pattern that the bedspread makes on your skin or the eyelash curler one. Her eye framed by the gold tone curler looks like a jewel.

The pic of the older couple ( her parents?) on the bed with cream on their faces is wonderful. Ben & I were speculating on how & why he had it on him. I thought maybe a passionate kiss goodnight but hers isn't visibly smeared. :roflmao:

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writers use a lot of their private life to work with, too, only in that case it is much easier to veil the fact that it is indeed your life (and that of the ones near to you) that ends up in your work.

 

And also, in the case of writers, the subjects can be totally blind-sided when they find out, eventually, that they have been used by a relative or friend in a story or book. i would assume that, with photography, it would be pretty obvious what the artist is doing, and that the subjects would have the opportunity to make any objections on the spot.

 

A little off-subject, but i also think that the escalating lessening of privacy and increase in public revelations of formerly private, and even taboo subjects, is a manifestation of the escalating replacement of the old Pisces energies with the energies of Aquarius.

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:crit: i think i prefer the more retiring Pisces vibe. openness is ok, but it's all a bit too 'in your face' now...

 

but then i'm a crusty crab, sneaking back into my shell at the drop of a pincer....

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I've often thought of writing a novel, probably a mystery, based on the loonies & odd balls around here...here as in my non-Fort community, but it would be too hard to disguise people & it would dilute them. Of course I'm assuming it would be published and I guess I'm more likely to be hit by lightning than get a book published according to statistics.

I notice the falling privacy barriers more in Kates age group than mine. Her friends discuss the most intimate things with each other and many also do on their on line communities.

My peers & I were much more private, I remember a girl who almost died of embarassment when a few of us found out she had a third nipple, and if you slept with your boyfriend you were very unlikely to tell any but your bosom friends. This was just at the beginning of the Dawning of Aquarius.

Many politicians had affairs, including presidents, but you just didn't hear of it. Now we get all the grisly details including dress stains & cigar details.

I don't consider the public stuff an improvement at all, but am glad that friends & families can talk about things more freely.

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I don't consider the public stuff an improvement at all, but am glad that friends & families can talk about things more freely.

that i agree with, totally.

 

i see some overinduling in being unrestrained with intimate details, and all in all i find it quite disturbing, and not really a good thing. i know a girl/young woman who likes to discuss her latest boyfriend down (literally) to their sexual techniques, preferences, and mishaps, and when i imagine overhearing somebody i just have fallen in love with, talking like that about me, it would be one of the worst things.

 

when it comes to photography in your private space, with friends and family ... it always does very much depend. i think that nobody in my family would expect their pics to turn up in a publication, or any space other than inside the family. but then i have a strong feeling that Elinor Carucci's family was aware of what was happening.

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i think what i appreciate about something like this is the aspect of honest documentation. her family are aware and there is a fair amount of staging but it's still an attempt at naturalism. it's the staged part that makes things a little dodgy for me. i'm still terribly conflicted about this idea. there's another american photographer whose name i'm forgetting (a woman) who spent most of her career photographing her family over the years. she makes no bones about staging the pictures and that's like super subversion because she's photographing a real event that she's saying has been restaged but the restaging is doing its best to make it seem unstaged. ellinor's photographs, in comparison, do have a raw intimacy about them, however, which makes them being public a little more disturbing.

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