When you live in a crowded house, extreme emotions and day-dreams are often interrupted by the chaos/order of the everyday life and family members force you to see the ‘real’ extreme in the ‘full house’. Springfield based photographer Julie Blackmon, who is the oldest of nine sister and mother of three children, creates new stories and memories based on her family life and also, the Dutch painter Jan Steen. In her photography series Domestic Vacations, the space – which is from time to time, her own house – is actually a non-existent room of the mind, full of memories from the past and also from the present, which is the reason that it doesn’t feel that much nostalgic, because there’s no longing for the past. It rather feels like listening to some old beloved grunge-bands. And all this is happening in this very moment. Joy switches quickly to boredom. Children are captured as though they’re subjects of a ‘still life’ painting. Pets and mothers too are not different from the objects that fill the house.
In Blackmon’s photography, subjects become timeless spaces, and spaces become memories, or reflections of the memories. Time has stopped, but still it passes so quickly that children of the past became mothers now; and sometimes acting like their mothers too. There’s something very sad, odd, familiar and funny about that. Blackmon says in her statement that her photography is both fictional and auto-biographical: ‘We live in a culture where we are both ‘child centered’ and ‘self-obsessed.’ The struggle between living in the moment versus escaping to another reality is intense since these two opposites strive to dominate. Caught in the swirl of soccer practices, play dates, work, and trying to find our way in our “make-over” culture, we must still create the space to find ourselves.’ she says. There’s a pool in the backyard. There’ll be always a pool in the backyard of our minds, because scenes from the past often repeat themselves, and if we’re lucky, they’ll do it in a very artistic way. Family life hasn’t changed since Steen painted it decades ago. And Julie Blackmon shows that the everyday life is still poetry, though there’s nothing poetic about it.