Rule Breakers: Elinor Carucci

“I never want to see another picture of ________.” Industry veterans share their pet peeves on themes in contemporary photography. In this series they present their “rule” along with five photographs that break it, in an effort to show that great work is the exception to the rule.

Rule Setter: Jennifer Schlesinger Hanson, Director, Verve Gallery of Photography
Rule Breaker: Elinor Carucci

I never want to see another portrait where the subjects are staring off blankly with no emotion and I am left feeling like 'so what'. I feel Elinor Carucci's cinematic self-portraiture captures the intimate life she lives in a very real way. I was reminded again how much I adore her work at the New York City AIPAD show this year where she was exhibited in many booths and was also promoting her book, Mother, at Edwynn Houk Gallery.

This work is my favorite of hers because I relate to motherhood and how she captures the intimacy, the love, the stresses, and the maturing of a woman and her child. The intimacy between a child and the mother is unlike anything for me comparatively. One's sense of privacy is completely diminished raising a child and Carucci captures these moments with such truth. I have had countless moments with my daughter following me into the bathroom going on about her wondrous stories while I needed privacy (and didn't get it). Those moments define the comfort of family and Elinor obviously understands this, but better yet, knows how to portray it. Many opine her work as inappropriate, too staged, etc but for the artistic mother who allows for her child to be inquisitive and is receptive to inquiry, it defines motherhood absolutely. I love that her work feels like you are watching a movie - that does not bother me - because her moment of knowing when to click the shutter is spot on.

...people always tell me not to use them [the words honesty and truth].  But for me it’s pretty simple.  I want the work to be honest and to tell something real, even if it’s limited.  Something authentic happens, and that’s what I want to capture, however hard it is.  I use these words a lot because, like any other photographer, I take a lot of images that are not very good or interesting, and it’s really hard to capture this thing; but when I do, it’s real.  Even if it’s not ‘true’, it’s real. That’s the challenge, and ultimately, that’s what I’m after.*

As my daughter and I are soon approaching upon her first decade of life, I am reminded about how time is really only defined by how humans, animals, nature, and 'things' age. If we didn't see such aging, we really wouldn't have any understanding of 'time'. Elinor Carucci captures all of this. There are no blank stares - for me, the people she captures know how to emote and she is successful at portraying her reality.

 —Jennifer Schlesinger Hanson

 The Woman That I Still Am #2

The Woman That I Still Am #2

 Dragging

Dragging

 Emmanuelle Having Her Hair Cut

Emmanuelle Having Her Hair Cut

 Toy

Toy

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Thumbs