I’ve written about Gallery Carte Blanche before, and am excited for the new show opening at the Mission gallery/bookshop/hangout. “This is Your World” features the photography of four European women, and the subject of this exhibit is women: in childhood, in adulthood, in dreams, in moments suspended in memory…it all promises to be very provocative. I’m always interested in artists’ portrayal of women and especially their handling of the delicate subject of girls in childhood, a theme I believe tests the mettle of any artist (or even culture). It invites romanticization, cliché, and a sort of sentimental fetishization that can border on creepy. It seems that no artist exploring the subject of childhood is safe from cries of exploitation from some corner of the gallery, and I think it’s brave to even attempt a photographic examination of girlhood, let alone to diverge from a safely realistic portrayal to a more impressionistic or “dreamlike” one, as the exhibit’s press release states.
For what were the forces that created the myths one would, perhaps unwittingly, tap into when creating a romantic vision of childhood? Ophelia or Pretty Baby? Tom Sawyer or Great Expectations? Grimm’s fairy tales or Disney’s? One leaves oneself open to parroting or embellishing upon cultural motifs that may or may not be so benign. I’m curious to see what the women did with this fraught but fascinating subject.
The show features images by Thai-born and Paris-based Saya Chontang, Julie Cerise (France), Aëla Labbé (France), and Deborah Parkin (UK), and is inspired by the work of singer/songwriter Emilie Simon. Friday’s opening will feature a pop-up market of sorts in the gallery, with local vendors Lili Merveille, Kate Ellen Metals, and The Detox Market offering jewelry, accessories, free massages, and free makeup makeovers to patrons.
Exhibit dates: April 20, 2012 to June 21, 2012
Opening reception April 20, 2012 6pm-9pm