Living with His Camera

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Overview

Photography is usually written about from the point of view of either the photographer or the viewer. Living with His Camera offers a perspective rarely represented—that of the photographed subject. Dick Blau has been making art photographs of the people he lives with for more than thirty years; cultural theorist Jane Gallop has been living with him—and his camera—for twenty years.

Living with His Camera is Gallop’s nuanced meditation on photography and the place it has in her private life and in her family. A reflection on family, it attempts—like Blau’s photographs themselves—to portray the realities of family life beyond the pieties of conventional representations. Living with His Camera is about some of the most pressing issues of visuality and some of the most basic issues of daily life. Gallop considers intimate photographs of moments both dramatic and routine: of herself giving birth to son Max or crying in the midst of an argument with Blau, pouring herself cereal as Max colors at the breakfast table, or naked, sweeping the floor. With her trademark candor, humor, and critical acumen, Gallop mixes personal reflection with close readings of Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida, Susan Sontag’s On Photography, Kathryn Harrison’s novel Exposure, and Pierre Bourdieu’s Photography.

Presenting his photographs and her text, Living with His Camera is a portrait of a couple whose professional activity is part of their private lives and whose private life is viewed through their professional gazes. While most of us set aside rigorous thought when we turn to the sentimental realm of home life, Gallop and Blau look at each other not only with great affection but also with the keen focus of a sharp, critical gaze.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A few years ago, literary theorist Jane Gallop fended off charges of sexual harassment and then wrote a book about it, Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, which was a combination of memoiristic self-disclosure bordering on exhibitionism and cerebral forays into the upper reaches of poststructuralist literary theory. This book follows the same model, offering a Lacanian interpretation of the author's own family photo album. The trick is, Gallop's live-in boyfriend of many years, and the father of her children, is photographer Blau, who specializes in the field of domestic art photography a la Sally Mann and Nicholas Nixon. Thus, their family album becomes a charged, psychoanalytic document-a referendum, in fact, on their whole personal/professional partnership. Written in four chapters, each with a different photo-related text as its guide, the book offers loose ruminations on Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida, Susan Sontag's On Photography, Kathryn Harrison's novel Exposure, and Pierre Bourdieu's early work on the sociology of home photography, bent to the images of the author's own family life. The results are mixed, with Barthes and Sontag generating richer material than Harrison and Bourdieu, and the best moments coming when Gallop allows herself to enter the grain of her domestic world without too much theoretical interference. Her ruminations on the emotional and intellectual contradictions of being mother, partner and public intellectual are consistently probing, self-aware and generous-even gushing when her children are involved-and always intrepid about issues of anger and doubt. 27 b&w photographs. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822331025
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 197
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Gallop is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is the author of numerous works including Around 1981: Academic Feminist Literary Theory and Thinking through the Body. Her books Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment and Anecdotal Theory are published by Duke University Press. Dick Blau is Professor in the Department of Film at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He has published two books of photography, Polka Happiness and Bright Balkan Morning: Romani Lives and the Power of Music in Greek Macedonia. Blau’s photographs of his family have been featured in journals including Frame/Work, Discourse, and Dreamworks.

Jane Gallop is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is the author of numerous works including Around 1981: Academic Feminist Literary Theory and Thinking through the Body. Her books Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment and Anecdotal Theory are published by Duke University Press. Dick Blau is Professor in the Department of Film at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He has published two books of photography, Polka Happiness and Bright Balkan Morning: Romani Lives and the Power of Music in Greek Macedonia. Blau’s photographs of his family have been featured in journals including Frame/Work, Discourse, and Dreamworks.

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Table of Contents

Living with His Camera 1
Cohabitation: A Methodological Preface 12
1 Observations of a Photographed Mother 19
2 The Unhappy Woman and the Empty Chair 55
3 The Photographer's Desire 91
4 Art in the Family 130
Notes 183
Index 195
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