We are so excited to kick off Fall with the works of Liz Albert. I enjoyed meeting Liz for the first time when reviewing her works in the New England Portfolio Reviews. I found the works compelling, amusing and thoughtful. In her 'Family Fictions' project Liz employs found photographs mostly of family outings and domestic situations. These images at times conflict with one another giving a thoughtful 'snapshot' in time and social dymanics, style and pose.
Steven J Duede. - Fine Art Photography, Curator of Aspect Initiative
In material culture studies, the family photograph is woven with history and narrative. In photography’s earliest days, having family pictures made was an extravagance. Today, we are inundated with images that can be made and shared instantaneously. Family pictures are imbued with multiple layers of meaning and often discussed as if they are precious and personal, even when shared widely. What to do then, with someone else’s family photographs? The anonymous nature of the found snapshot is one of the most mysterious, and intriguing, aspects of Liz Albert’s work. Her series, Family Fictions, uses found images to create narratives that define a specific social and cultural time and place with sharp visual cues. The images Liz Albert re-contextualizes point to a sliver of photographic time—when cameras were readily available and film easily developed, but also a time when the image had to be a physical object in order to be viewed. We now take photographs constantly, but how often do we print and save the more esoteric things we capture on our phones?
These are not the artist’s family photos, she has no connection to the people within, but Liz Albert gives these photographs a second life, creating pairs that form their own narratives. Some of these images make sense by themselves—a party or a family trip—others are more random, quirky situations with dark undertones. Some are slicker, glossier, with a forced brightness, like advertising or staged views. Taken together, Liz Albert’s Family Fictions are surreal and perfectly juxtaposed snapshots of other people’s lives, and as the viewer we get to participate in these filmstrips of family drama, inserting our own narrative.
Jessica Roscio. Curator, Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University, Aspect Initiative Partner and contributor.
Visit Liz http://www.lizalbert.com/
Liz Albert is a photographic artist who has exhibited her work in shows throughout the United States including The Photographic Center Northwest, The Griffin Museum of Photography, The Photographic Resource Center, The A.I.R. Gallery and The Houston Center for Photography. Online and print features include: Fisheye Magazine, Fotoroom, Fraction Magazine, Lenscratch, Photo-Emphasis, and The Photo Review, as well as the French weekly magazine, Courrier International. Her work can currently be seen in the national exhibition of The Fence 2018, which has toured seven cities throughout the US and Canada. In January of 2020 her ”Family Fictions” series will be featured in a solo exhibition at The Danforth Museum of Art, in Framingham, Massachusetts. She holds a BFA from the University of Michigan, an MFA in photography from Maryland Institute College of Art, and a post-baccalaureate in teaching from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. In addition to being a practicing artist, she has taught photography at both the college and secondary school levels. She is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan and lives with her family in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Family photographs document reality…or do they? Revisiting these images years later, we often project what we want to remember, whether it really happened that way or not. In this project I have gathered anonymous photographs of family experiences, and by selecting and pairing images in a new context, give new meaning to both the images and the relationships within the frames.
I started my research by taking a closer look at my own family slides. What I found in the neatly arranged metal boxes were scores of pictures from family vacations, birthday parties and playing “dress up”. I soon realized, however, that although I had a strong connection to these images, they were not “good” photographs – making them only interesting to my family and myself. Putting these aside, I wanted to look deeper into the family archives of others. I turned to eBay where I perused thousands of individual slides from the 1950’s-1970’s, acquiring those images, which I found to be emotionally and visually compelling. Pairing these pictures together allows me to be the director of my own Hitchcock movie – selecting scenes which, combined with others, suggest a story line, which is evocative and cinematic.
The most prominent theme in my parings is that of travel. Many of the characters, are women, venturing off on their own, whether it be the desert or the mountains, leaving behind the expectations and responsibilities of what’s happening in the adjacent frame; both physically and emotionally. It’s uncertain, however, if they will ever get to where they are going – or even if they know where that place is.
There is a subversive pleasure in working with other people’s family memories and manipulating their meaning by changing the context in which they are viewed. Ironically, even though I decided not to use my own family slides for this project, in the end, the individuals in these photographs reflect aspects of my own family dynamics – both past and present. Which just goes to show – we are always close to home even when we are far away.