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VASA : Dick Blau : Thicker Than Water


The photographs of Dick Blau. it is not often that we have the opportunity to explore a forty-year endeavor by a single photographer. Thicker Than Water exhibits the 40 plus year inquiry by Dick Blau into his relationship to family and himself. This, for me, is the crux of the work: can relationships be photographed or shared? Blau is public with his work, he is sharing, he is writing his own text and, as he has pointed out in his video interviews included in this exhibition, he is talking about moments that most of us, on both sides of the camera, would keep silent and in the shadows.

If Blau was “just’ making images of his family, most of us would quickly lose interest. Our experience would be similar to looking at the presentation/documentation of a person’s family vacation. Outside of some humorous moments we would be polite, drink more wine and try to stay awake, while providing the occasional smile and chuckling at the appropriate time. (May I add, that with the emergence of digital and the ability to produce endless amounts of photographs at almost no cost, the display of a family trip could go on forever. That means a lot of wine consumed).

However, Blau tells us upfront that these are not family documents made for later consumption; rather, this project is about theatre. He refers to it as the “Theatre of the Family.” Yes, they are photographs of his families, with Dick documenting their lives through his camera. But, more importantly, they are evidence of the performance moment—that moment when the consumer is pulled into the image, empathizing, identifying, and living with the subject(s). All good theatre images build upon the peek before the catharsis.


Curater: Roberto Muffoletto
With essays by Rachel Zimmermann and Stefan Vanthuyne

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VASA is an international online center for media studies providing a platform for photography, film. video and theorist writing on culture and images (VASA Journal of Images and Culture).

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