Michal Chelbin: Strangely Familiar

I couldn't pinpoint what drew me to Michal Chelbin's portraits when I first saw them online but I was curious enough to purchase her book entitled Strangely Familiar: Acrobats, Athletes and other Traveling Troupes. In her project statement, she spoke often of contradictions mixing the "odd with the ordinary" or the" twilight between reality and fantasy." Indeed, her photographs, all taken with available light, richly depict these dichotomies. There are portraits taken of adolescent boys and girls just on the verge of maturity-their childlike faces do not seem to match their muscular bodies. There are combinations of men and women wearing costumes removed from their original context and placed in intimate interiors or placid landscapes. One particular photograph that stayed with me was a father carrying his daughter while submerged almost knee deep in a swamp. Both are looking straight at the camera. He is bare chested while she wore only a pink and white tool skirt. The image is quiet, intriguing yet mysterious. Page after page, my gaze is sustained as this theme of incongruity threads beautifully throughout the book.  

Publisher: Aperture