An Appropriate Response to Reality

HCP's latest exhibit, Somewhere in the Balance, enters a disturbing dreamworld born out of anxiety.

By William Geoffrey Wood November 19, 2015

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London-based photographer Jisun Choi's "Compulsive Collection"

Photography has become increasingly popular in the last few years with the decreasing cost of quality camera equipment and the constant evolution of mobile photography; everyone has Instagram and Snapchat is on the rise. But one facet of the art form is still left un-mastered by most: the ability to create meaning. A true artist creates meaning within their photography and that is exactly what a group of gifted photographers advocate in Somewhere in the Balance, opening this Friday at Houston Center for Photography.

The installation, organized by former Executive Director Sarah Sudhoff and Director of Exhibitions and Programs Caroline Docwrafeatures four photographers including San Antoniobased photographer John William Keedy. Many of his pieces depict constructed environments of normal household items with slight variances. The images evoke a sort of chaos within normality and zero in on human anxiety. They are designed to highlight questions of mental stability and normalcy within daily life and their construction causes the viewer to take an inquisitive second take.

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Jennifer Thoreson's "Little Baby"

The curatorial team at HCP used Keedy’s work as a hub, connecting strings to other photographers with the same themes and concepts. The additional contributing artists are from anomalous locations, geographically speaking, but many of their ideas—all centered on the idea of human anxiety—converge within the project. “Anxiety is common among people who live in this rapidly changing and tremendously competitive modern society,” says Londonbased photographer Jisun Choi. Her project, My Sweet Home, studies human observation and how we can become overly saturated with information. One image from this set shows Choi, aligning toys equidistant from one another on a shelf, while a pile of fast-food wrappers lay strewn next to her. The image seems to speak to the disillusionment of the depicted human as she stresses to achieve perfection while disregarding the calamity next to her.

All of the featured art indicates an internal struggle between perceived environments and actuality. Sarah Hobbs, Georgian photographer and creator of Emotional Management, takes a closer look at the domestic spaces that individuals create for themselves and the reactions that those spaces produce. The modified pathology of modern humanity comes under scrutiny in her work. She presents the struggle between “how we want to be perceived and how much we can really handle mentally”—an ever-growing issue in our society’s highly virtual sense of self.

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