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Strangely Familiar

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February 6, 2009

The photographs in this series attempt to capture stories of everyday life that exist in the space between the odd and the ordinary. Most of the people I photograph are not in the mainstream; many are small-town performers (e.g., dwarfs in a theatre play, ballroom dancers, young contortionists). Hoping to create a private moment, I photograph my subjects dislocated from their performing environment and in casual settings: at home, on the street, or in a park. I search for people with a legendary quality: adolescent girls, for instance, on the verge of sexual consciousness. My aim is to record a scene blending direct information and enigmas, scenes rife with visual contrasts between young and old, large and small, normal and abnormal. Viewers tell me that the world in my images is strange. If they find it strange, it is only because the world is indeed a strange place. I try to show that.

Based in New York City, Israeli-born Michal Chelbin’s work has been shown in solo and group shows in the U.S. and Europe, most recently at Andrea Meislin Gallery in New York. Recent publications include ArtForum, American Photo, Aperture, B&W Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. Editorial work includes the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and Ten Men Magazine. Strangely Familiar: Acrobats, Athletes and other traveling troupes, a monograph, was published by Aperture in April 2008. Her next monograph will be published this fall.

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