Gillian Laub – Testimony

Gillian Laub (b1975, Port Chester, NY) is a New York based photographer who completed a BA in Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin before studying photography at the ICP in New York. Her show at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York, An American Life, closes tomorrow, July 7, 2007, and is a series of large colour images that show often intimate moments in the life of her own extended family, in Florida, New York and the suburbs. It’s work that gives an insight into the life of some Americans, and certainly very proficiently done, with several images that I like considerably (Grandpa eating on the beach at Naples, Florida for example) but overall I had a certain feeling of deja-vu, not least because I photographed a very different family some twenty or more years ago with occasionally similar results.

(C) 1982, Peter Marshall
Joseph, Jan Willem & Samuel 1982 © Peter Marshall
(C) 1977 Peter Marshall
Samuel 1977 © Peter Marshall

Well, families are families, although in some ways it is what is in the background of these pictures that that is of more interest, setting Laub’s particular family in a social context, and perhaps seen most clearly in ‘ Jamie Practicing for the Family, Armonk, NY 2003′.

What I find considerably more interesting than ‘An American Life‘ are Laub’s images from Israel and Palestine, some of which were shown earlier at Bonni Benrubi, and can be seen in the fine PDF portfolio ‘Beyond Wounds‘, as well as on Laub’s own web site. This work, some of which is in her newly published Aperture book, Testimony, seems to be of entirely a different and higher order of magnitude. These images of Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, displaced Lebanese families, and Palestinians all caught up in conflict in the region, taken over a four year period have an incredible depth and complexity.

If you are in London next Thursday, 12 July, 2007, you can hear Gillian Laub talking about her book at the Photographers’ Gallery at 6.30pm, followed by a book launch and signing in the Bookshop. It’s a free event, and no booking is needed.

Family Album was the first web site I ever wrote, and is still on the Internet (with some very minor changes to the code.) I also wrote a feature for, Family Pictures at About Photography, which became one of my more popular features on the site. The discussion about the problems of nudity in images of children it contains surprisingly caused some controversy, although only around five years after it was put on line.

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