Domestic Rituals/Real Life Dramas by Mary Frey
The American photographer Mary Frey’s work addresses the nature of the documentary image to contemporary culture. Frey will be presented with two of her series, Domestic Rituals, which was shot between 1979 and 1983 in her own neighbourhood in Massachusetts, and Real Life Dramas, shot between 1984 and 1987.
The first project started with the photographer’s fascination with the snapshot, described by Frey "as a shaper of memory and a seemingly truthful and precise record of an event." The black and white film images, captured by a large format camera, depict banal situations of everyday life like gatherings, cooking, drinking, eating, doing make-up, etc. with an exception that those situations are sought out in advance, appearing as if the subjects are truly engaged in their activities. The quasi-documentary images question the nature of truth in photography and depicted middle-class customs are a commentary on societal values and systems.
Frey's second project, Real Life Dramas, is a series of images featuring texts that are photographically generated and printed on the white space of the photographs. Those photographs appear to be documentary but in reality, they are entirely predetermined and fully set up. Frey notes that “Their appearance is meant to hover somewhere between reality and soap opera in order to question the ‘truth’ of the camera’s vision.” Mary Frey received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984 for her series Domestic Rituals.