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Arts & Culture

SMP’s spring shows document international alienation

Documentary photography from Russia, Mexico, Israel and Moldova

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Natan Dvir, "Mohammad (Nazareth, Muslim)"

By contrast, Italian photographer Vaschetti's blurry vintage images induce a frantic state. Historia, Memoria y Silencios is a fraction of her mother's old slides, which she rescued from the garbage, re-photographed and enlarged after her mother "lifted the weight of the family past" off her daughter's shoulders. Vaschetti presents unfocused beach vacations, jaunts to the mountains and odd bits of city and country life: a child in a suit sitting in a mountain road; a shadowy man in a dark doorway. These few intimate details of her relatives defy her mother's act of disposal, yet the soft-focus nature leaves an unslaked thirst for focus. Vaschetti, longing for closure, failed to find it in these ethereal, vaguely sinister photos. Instead these photos increasingly unsettle the viewer as they beget worse and worse imaginings.

Conventional encounters with beauty will not be found here. Instead our world's sketchy, uncertain present seems a comeuppance for the moral capital we frittered away in the past on sex slaves, unmarked graves, sublimated racial hostility and duplicitous, murky ancestry. This exhibition as a whole serves as a milestone in a world of fear and ambiguity as we step gingerly into the future.

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