This trim, clothbound first in a series from Kalman and Handler for the Museum of Modern Art offers an intriguing painting-and-prose response to a selection of photographs of, as the title indicates, girls and young women standing on lawns.
The 42 black-and-white photographs presented here are unremarkable at first glance. Gifts to the museum from a handful of donors, including Kalman, they represent the work of mostly amateur photographers from 1910 to 1955. Handler’s droll, laconic prose poem complements the one-dimensional nature of these images; a few words accompanying each invite readers to consider that someone in particular is standing in each photograph: “Keep track of this. / You will not remember / every place you have stood.” The combination of lawns, “girls” and posing for the camera seems to speak of a particular place, demographic and time. All are affecting, artless and sometimes poignant in their anonymity, but only two depict subjects who are not white: a young black girl standing with the only boy in these images, perhaps her younger brother; a young black woman in another. Kalman reinterprets 10 images in her energetic and inimitable fauve-esque palette; the unique charm of her paintings calls attention to the way the camera captures both what is intended and…something else. The MoMA’s curator of photography offers a note on a brief history of home photography and provides a description (“vernacular photography”) for the genre.
Terrific appetizer for discussion. (Poetry. 8 & up)