Elinor Carucci (b. 1971, Jerusalem, Israel) draws inspiration from her personal life to create poignant images that present her most intimate moments, contemplating identity, relationships and the passage of time. Carucci’s work highlights both beautiful and imperfect aspects of the human condition. In this way, her work grapples with the balance of the personal and the universal.
Carucci constructs images with dramatic lighting and careful compositions, adding theatricality to these predominantly candid scenes. Each of Carucci’s series responds to the broad range of emotions experienced at different stages of her life. In Closer (2002), Carucci captures her closest personal relationships with her parents, her husband and herself. While these scenes are staged, Carucci’s relationship to her subjects fosters the sense of authenticity palpable in each image. Diary of a Dancer (2005) draws on Carucci’s experiences as a Middle Eastern professional dancer working as the entertainment for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. Similar to other bodies of Carucci’s work, images from this series emphasize the liveliness and delight she experienced, while others are imbued with darkness and vulnerability.
Carucci’s most extensive series, Mother (2013), chronicles the lives of her twin children, beginning with her pregnancy through their eighth birthday. These images retain the intimacy and even sensuality that she explored in earlier series as she underscores the everyday messy and tender moments of parenting. Mother documents the relationship between two siblings, the shifting role of a mother as her children grow up, and the ephemerality of childhood.
While motherhood remains at the core of this work, Carucci also confronts notions of personal identity as an Israeli immigrant. These images present a shift towards Carucci’s own groundedness in New York City through her children, as they stroll through the streets of the city, play in playgrounds, and bicker on street corners. By photographing the everyday lives of her kids, Carucci reveals the ways in which her children, as American born citizens, have come to shape her own identity as American.
Elinor Carucci graduated from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design with a degree in photography, and moved to New York that same year. Her photographs are included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; and the Houston Museum of Fine Art. Her work appeared in The New York Times Magazine; The New Yorker; Details; New York Magazine; W; Aperture; and ARTnews. She was awarded the ICP Infinity Award in 2001, The Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 and NYFA in 2010. Carucci has published three monographs to date, Closer (Chronicle Books 2002) and Diary of a Dancer (SteidlMack 2005) and MOTHER (Prestel 2013). In the Fall of 2019, Monacelli Press will publish her fourth monograph, Mid Life.
It is said about photography that if the image isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough—and not necessarily just in terms of physical proximity. In fact, sometimes the more explicit an image is, the more emotionally distant. That's why only some of the 20 photographers W asked to depict what intimacy means to them in one photo ahead of Valentine's Day feature nudity (or even physical touch). Elinor Carucci, the photographer whose close-up kiss memorably illustrated the short story "Cat Person" in the New Yorkerfor example, chose to capture a different kind of moment in the bedroom: one with her daughter, Eden, in a moment of curiosity.
Parlor Room Presents: Elinor Carucci in conversation with Parlor Room
Monday, March 19th at 5:30pm
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Columbus Building, 280 S. Columbus Drive, Room 319
Born 1971 in Jerusalem, Israel, Elinor Carucci graduated in 1995 from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design with a degree in photography, and moved to New York that same year. Her work has been included in many solo and group exhibitions worldwide, solo shows include Edwynn Houk gallery, Fifty One Fine Art Gallery, James Hyman and Gagosian Gallery, London among others and group shows include The Museum of Modern Art New York, MoCP Chicago and The Photographers' Gallery, London.
Round-up of best photographs exhibited at PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco 2018 includes Elinor Carucci, "Kiss," 2017, as seen at Edwynn Houk Gallery's booth, and Mona Kuhn, "Bushes and Succulents series," 2017.
Elinor Carucci's "Kiss," 2017 has been selected for The Photography Show's special exhibition, A Time for Reflection, curated by Sir Elton John. Another special exhibition at the fair this year, Forever Young: Selections from the Joe Baio Collection, also includes work by the artist from her Mother series.
One of the most fascinating internet phenomenons of 2017 was the commotion, and high-test handwringing, around "Cat Person," a short story by Kristen Roupenian published in the New Yorker earlier this month. Depicting a series of bad dates and bad sex between a young woman and an older man, the details in the piece of fiction felt—especially in the context of the public discussion of power dynamics between men and women today—like a very real gut-punch. As much conversation and sub-conversation as Roupenian's story generated, there was almost as much talk about the photograph commissioned to illustrate the story.
It’s unusual for a short story to generate the kind of online commotion created by Kristen Roupenian’s “Cat Person,” which appeared in the magazine last week. Nearly every woman I spoke with about it found Roupenian’s detailed articulation of a strange and terrible sexual bargaining—is it easier (or safer) for me to just let this happen, rather than to try and stop it?—queasily familiar. “There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth,” Doris Lessing wrote, in 1949, in the first volume of her autobiography. For many readers, “Cat Person” felt not just true but revelatory. It was a kind of unburdening—a suggestion that, perhaps, the uneasy internal monologues we deliver to ourselves during our most vulnerable and confusing moments are, in fact, shared.
Last week, a piece of short fiction—written by Kristen Roupenian and published by The New Yorker—went viral. Titled “Cat Person,” the story centers on a series of encounters between a 20-year-old woman and 34-year-old man who meet at a movie theater, go on a couple of unsettling dates, and have startlingly bad sex. Fiction very rarely builds the kind of fiery momentum that “Cat Person” experienced after its publication, but the story struck a chord with readers of all genders across the US: at its core, “Cat Person” articulates common feelings of confusion, ambivalence, and (tellingly) fear that often define the contemporary female experience of sex.
When Elinor Carucci is behind the camera, the distinction between public and private moments disappears. For more than two decades, Carucci has offered an unflinching look into her personal life as she left her family in Jerusalem, moved to New York City, and raised a family of her own. Carucci’s work has been celebrated for its transformation of the oft-overlooked details of everyday life into compelling expressions of emotion and intimacy.
Elinor Carucci is an accomplished photographer. To put it mildly. Her photographsare in the collections at MOMA, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, among others. She is the new master photographer at Ilford. She has held visiting teaching positions at Princeton, Harvard, and the International Center for Photography, and is currently a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts. She has published three books. Recently, on assignment for The New York Times Magazine, she photographed young adults who left their Ultra Orthodox communities. Her photographs of Evan, a transgender man who gave birth to a baby boy, which appeared in Time, won multiple awards. She is also a former professional belly dancer.
The new exhibition “Period.” includes bra sculptures and mesmerizing photographs of menstrual blood — and it may make some viewers uncomfortable.
For co-gallerists Eira Rojas and Aimee Rubenstein, the curatorial process always starts with the topics that animate their everyday conversations with friends. "I am constantly talking about my period," Eira says. "But only to a select group of individuals." These daily dialogues develop quickly into politically charged and provocative exhibitions at Miami's Rojas + Rubensteen Projects, the gallery the duo founded in October 2016. The last two shows at the space focused on the relationship between freedom and control in American politics and Islamophobia.
We asked Israeli-American photographer Elinor Carucci, whose book, Mother, chronicled her pregnancy and her relationship with her twins, to delve into the power of photography.
A faculty member of the graduate program at the School of Visual Arts with work held in permanent collections of museums across the world, Carucci says she’s looking for universality in her own work. “I am looking to go deeper,” she tells TIME. “Beyond the façade of what we see into I guess the core of who we are.”
Everything is personal for Elinor Carucci. If you ask her for an interview, for example, there’s a chance she might invite you to her home in New York City. If you arrive, say, voiceless with laryngitis, she might offer you tea. Sitting in her living room, you may notice the panels of black seamless next to kids’ drawings amid copies of her monographs and bikes mounted on the exposed brick wall. You may sit on a low sofa and sip green jasmine together. In five minutes you will have become like old friends.
Spanning the first decade of her twin children’s lives, Elinor Carucci’s latest monograph, Mother, continues the photographer’s tradition of crafting deeply intimate, honest scenes of personal and family life. Snapshots of sibling fights, subway-train meltdowns, and excursions to McDonald’s alternate with more painterly, classically staged portraits of the two children and Carucci’s own pregnant figure. The body of work exposes the profound changes that child-rearing brought to the photographer’s own life, body, and sense of self, but it serves equally as a celebration of motherhood’s ubiquity, beauty, and spiritual power. With an interview by Juliana Halpert.
Being a mother means holding a naked toddler while trying to go to the toilet. It is a scar the shape of a wide smile across an abdomen. It involves years of tests, injections and regimented scheduling. It gives a grown-up permission to play dead, get mummified in toilet paper and be eaten by a plastic dinosaur. It is two bare bodies, one tiny, the other enormous, intertwined as if they were always meant to be.
Having children may be the most universal phenomenon after being born and dying, yet it has rarely been represented in all its fullness through the history of art or popular culture. "Home Truths: Photography and Motherhood," a gorgeous and brave group show on view at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, feels as if it has been a long time coming. Organized by independent curator Susan Bright, the exhibition presents photographs and video by Janine Antoni, Elina Brotherus, Ana Casas Broda, Elinor Carucci, Tierney Gearon, Fred Huning, Hanna Putz, Ann Fessler and Katie Murray. Together these artists move the image of motherhood far beyond the Virgin Mary, Demi Moore and Kate Gosselin.
Starting with her pregnancy more than a decade ago and continuing on through the birth of her twins and the subsequent early years of their lives, Elinor Carucci has made a body of work that has pulled back the curtain on the joys and frustrations of motherhood. I reviewed an earlier incarnation of this project that was shown at Sasha Wolf Gallery in 2011 (here), and found it full of raw personal emotion, alternating between the harsh and the tender with the intensity of a high strung, overtired caregiver. At that time, the photographs felt very centered on Carucci herself, a constant and often indirect reflection of how she was feeling and how the actions of her growing children were seen through her eyes.
The Israeli-born photographer Elinor Carucci made her name by training a lens on herself and her husband, parents, and siblings—a theme first brought to public attention with her monograph Closer. The body of work featured in this forceful new series began approximately a decade ago, when she was pregnant with her now nine-year-old twins, Eden and Emmanuelle. She has always photographed the substance of daily life, and this work is no exception, inviting us to participate in the most tender interactions between a mother and her children. From candid depictions of pregnancy to captivating images of her son and daughter at rest and at play, Carucci’s photographs display an intimacy that can be startling. Yet the emotions they reveal are universal, familiar to anyone who has experienced parenthood or spends time with young children. She records her family’s routines and crises with profound honesty: an infant’s fragility; fleeting childhood pleasures; a parent’s hollow-eyed fatigue; tears, runny noses, and scars. The drama of these domestic scenes is heightened by Carucci’s nuanced use of chiaroscuro, direct light, and extreme close-ups.
Valentine’s Day, though originally associated with romantic love, has grown to celebrate not only the love shared between couples, but also the relationships between friends, parents and their children, old love, young love, sibling love, you name it.
Two photographers who have turned their cameras toward this all encompassing notion of love are Elinor Carucci and Gillian Laub, friends who share a fascination and inspiration in – to use a hackneyed phrase – the power of love. Both photographers have built formidable bodies of work photographing their families.
Since photography became accessible to the mainstream there’s been no shortage of baby photos. And now more than ever you probably cruise by a friend’s stumbling, growing child on your social media feeds, getting these seemingly intimate glimpses of both parents and people forming. Yet it’s rarely revealing about what it really means to be a parent — the tantrums, the moments of peace, and the daily dramas both good and bad.
Beginning with her pregnancy and spanning nearly a decade, Elinor Carucci photographed herself and her family in a deeply personal series. Carucci takes the most familiar subject matter — a missing tooth, a first haircut, a brother and sister fighting — and infuses it with mystery and danger. Carucci photographs motherhood as we have never seen it before.
The work of Elinor Carucci is concerned with the most intimate moments of life; turning a lens on her family and herself, she is endlessly fascinated with relationships and the human body. Her latest book, "Mother", is a dreamy but unromanticized record of her pregnancy and early motherhood, continuing a lineage of evocative photography of childhood that includes Sally Mann's groundbreaking 1992 book "Immediate Family."
In one of Elinor Carucci’s photographs in her new book, Mother, she is nude, breast-feeding her newborn twins. She looks beautiful yet exhausted, a baby in each hand, neither of them appearing to suckle that effectively. She seems resigned, frustrated, maybe.
It’s an arresting image that goes beyond the nakedness of the mother and the babies. It’s almost possible to know what she is thinking, the stresses of parenting newborn twins weighing on her mind, perhaps. This is the trademark of the 42-year-old Carucci’s work: an unflinching gaze that documents life with all its vicissitudes.
The morning rush in a Manhattan neighborhood like Elinor Carucci's is the occasion for a hundred dramatic goodbyes. Hurried parents, late for work, burst onto the sidewalk with their children, headed to school or day care. While eager young ones shoot ahead on scooters, the truculent linger behind, to be hoisted onto hips or swung upon shoulders.
This project, the third monograph by Elinor Carucci, follows a logical trajectory from her earlier work. Closer (2002), chronicled her tumultuous relationship with her husband and parents through incidences of infidelity (hers), too much dope (her husband's) and her parents fractious relationship and eventual divorce. The mood was gentle, though, with plenty of high notes; the everyday ebb and flow of relationships were lovingly and lavishly documented, while the larger narratives played out in the background.