Truth or fiction?

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Date: January-February 2011
From: Afterimage(Vol. 38, Issue 4)
Publisher: University of California Press
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,352 words
Lexile Measure: 1280L

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True Fiction

Philadelphia Photo Arts Center


September 9-November 27, 2010

Featuring approximately 150 photographs by more than seventy photographers, the seminal exhibition "Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic. Comfort" opened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in the fall of 1991. Where postmodernist photography had previously been neglected at MoMA, with this exhibition curator Peter Galassi attempted to bring photography's disparate and often warring factions--the modernists and the postmodernists--into dialogue. The 1991 exhibition marked the first time MoMA showcased candid documentary photographs alongside conceptual and staged work. Oalassi's survey had a profound impact on photography. Many of the photographers exhibited have become critical players in photography's history, including James Casebere, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Doug DuBois, Thomas Roma, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Joel Sternfeld, and Carrie Mae Weems. (1) The exhibition's legacy continues, as domesticity remains a prevalent theme in contemporary photography.

Inspired by "Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort," the recent exhibition "True Fiction" at. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) revisited some of the original premises of the MoMA show. Works from nine photographers examined the subject of domesticity, defining the term in the broadest sense. The photographs explored the fine line between truth and fantasy. Documentary work coexisted with staged tableaus. Some works addressed the political while others examined personal identity. Co-curator Christopher Gianunzio and Executive Director Sarah Stolfa were interested in the gray "in-between areas," such as the ways in which photographers challenge notions of authenticity by disrupting viewers' perceptions of reality. "True Fiction" was intended as a "mini survey," presenting the diversity within contemporary imagemaking.

PPAC's gallery is small, limiting the number of works. Is it possible to have a meaningful survey with only nine photographers? The theme of truth vs. fiction was also puzzling. While this issue is still an active debate in photography, the '90s produced a plethora of artists and exhibits focused on this theme. What is its current applicability.' To understand this, one must search for the space "in-between" truth and fiction where both can mutually coexist.

Johanna Drucker makes a...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A248265334