Exhibition dates: 1st May - 4th June 2010
Hamish Morrison Galerie is pleased to present a solo exhibition by the French photographer Delphine Balley (*1974) in the gallery’s office space.
In the series „L´album de famille“, which Balley has been working on since 2002, she presents family scenes that are both familiar and strange, almost unsettling. The actors in the scenes are trapped in situations that, taken out of their context, are hard to decipher. The actors are Balley’s own relatives from her home village in Northern France. Endowed with props and accessories that include masks, splints, crutches, cravats and alice bands, the figures undergo a deformation and an alienation. Some of the characteristics or attributes that they may have in reality are shown in an exaggerated, even absurd, manner. As a result, reality and fantasy, past and fiction are mingled into surreal snapshots that still manage to reveal the individuality and singularity of each person, as well as some of their specific characteristics.
The settings and backdrops of Balley’s scenes have an antiquated, dusty feel. They seem to have a musty smell, evoking memories of the past, outdated moral values, and conservative family structures. The black, heavy frames also emphasise this sense of bourgeois life, as well as recalling the manner in which family portraits are usually presented.
Delphine Balley acts like a tamer, taking over the stage and directing her relatives so that a role-change takes place. She groups them in scenes that are relics of her own memories, showing the world in the way she saw it and experienced it as a child. These authentic memories and stories are then mixed with elements from fairy tales, fiction and dreams. In her role as a family portraitist, Balley refuses to grow up and take an adult, serious view of the world. Instead, she maintains the perspective of a little girl whose whole universe is the family villa and its inhabitants.
Balley presents us with a mysterious world full of strange characters, complicated social relations and tragic events. However, her depictions of family traditions also make us smile. While telling her own story and revealing her relatives’ blemishes and quirks in a direct but affectionate manner, she draws a grotesque, exaggerated picture that is at the same time subjective and representative of the smallest social institution: the family.
Delphine Balley was born in 1974 in Romans, France. She studied art history at the University of Lyon, and Fine Arts at the National School of Photography in Arles. Her photographs have been widely exhibited in solo and group shows including at the Cultural Centre Ribérac, the 7th Biennial Lyon, the National Centre for Contemporary Art Moscow and the Irish Museum of Modern Art Dublin. She lives and works in Lyon, France.