\\ Justine reyes - Away From Home //

Identity, history and time are the main subject matter explored in the artist work. A collective shift in perception has taken place since 9/11. We are living in a more global world then ever before and that forces many of us to reexamine our position in it. Not only our national identity but also how we view ourselves individually and the ways in which we relate to others has changed. In Mask Series (2004) the artist raise questions that challenge western ideologies, norms and notions of freedom. In this work she blends the idea of the veil with the mask, both in terms of protection and aggression. She makes reference to the burkha, ski-masks, gas masks, SARS masks, hazmat gear and fetish masks. In the installation tentatively titled 3-20-03 to Present she uses the repetitive nature of crocheting to speak not only to the build up of time itself but also to the number of casualties and deaths amassed over time. During these times of war, terrorism, homeland security and global instability. She has felt increasingly powerless, frustrated and deeply saddened. This has in large part brought her to her most current bodies of work many of which include my family, the idea of leaving and returning home, and the longing to hold on to things that are ephemeral and transitory in nature. Home, Away from Home is a series of portraits of Reyes’ aging mother and uncle taken over the past six years at home and in hotel rooms while traveling abroad. This body of work draws from the artist’s close relationship with her family to convey the experience of leaving and returning home and the fear of losing those closest to us. Photographs of Reyes’ mother and uncle at home show them gazing directly into the camera while engaging in activities such as talking on the phone, sitting at the breakfast table, ironing or reading the paper. These images allow for patient and focused observation, and “the opportunity to have an emotional dialogue with the viewer.” Intimate portraits of her family in hotel rooms reveal the subtle underlying tensions affected by dislocation. An atmosphere of loneliness permeates these interior spaces designed to have the look and feel of domestic comfort. Reyes’ portraits are filled with the immeasurable vastness of age, memory and time. The artist has said, “I use my work to move through the fear and pain of loss and longing.” Home, Away from Home is a poignant and personal study that invites us to think about photography’s relationship to emotional truth.

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