Sunday, September 02, 2007

Ask a silly question...

The WaPo's freelance galleries critic writes in a review of sub-text at Randall Scott Gallery:

At Randall Scott, Caitlin Phillips's work proves particularly enervating. She's an attractive woman, slender and young, and she takes pictures of herself. In one picture she wears a simple dress and cute shoes and holds a tea set while looking blankly at the camera. In another, she stands on a beach, masked and perfectly still, dressed in a flowery shift. In a third, she's nearly naked, in curlers and hose, pouting for the camera.

What possesses a woman artist to denigrate herself like this? Photography, in its many forms, dominates artmaking. But can artists use it wisely?
Here's the question that her editor should have asked the critic: "Since you are asking the readers this question, did you ask the photographer?"

Caitlin Phillips Of course not, Dawson's vitriol is generally reserved for the written word, and as most DC area gallerists know, and in my experience, she rarely asks questions when visiting a show, or even speaks, other than the social "hello," when she first arrives, and the occasional "ahah" when spoken to.

In the past this lack of asking questions (that she clearly has about the work, even rhetorical questions easily answered) has bitten her back, evidenced by some rather monumental errors in her writing, and in this case the answer to her question was easily available in the gallery's website and the obviously un-read news release about the exhibition; Caitlin Phillips writes:
During the summers when I was seven, eight, nine, I remember waking next to my grandmother in her heat soaked room, the bedding scarce, as we had tried to cool ourselves the night before. These humid mornings, which I recall vividly, were often spent admiring the photographs and the painted portraits that lined the faded wallpaper of the bedroom. Elegant, Victorian women gazed back from the walls, their pale skin accented by feathery dresses, my grandmother’s room, a modest representation of her own Victorian ideals. These summers spent at my grandparent’s home, my sisters and I feverishly practiced and displayed the ladylike talents my grandmother instilled and insisted upon us, naively mirroring our companions hung on the wall.

My photographs and videos attempt to discuss my current notions of lineage and posterity through deliberate manipulation of memory and dissection of my personal history. The imagery creates a mise-en-scene derived from personalized romance and girlhood nostalgia. It is a visual investigation of the conflicted self: a state of reflection glimpsing into the progression of feminine identity through years of experience, growth and longing.
Does that sound like a woman denigrating herself?