Abelardo Morell.  Photographs by Abelardo Morell. Text by Richard B. Woodward.
Abelardo Morell.  booktease preview.

Abelardo Morell.

Photographs by Abelardo Morell. Text by Richard B. Woodward.
Phaidon, London, 2005. 140 pp., 105 b&w illustrations, 11½x11¼".

This mid-career retrospective of Morell’s work traces his career from his early street photography to his most recent imagery of folded money. It was not until his son, Brady, was born in 1986 that Morell turned inward to focus on his domestic life, and we began to see his trademark wonderment and boyish curiosity. Morell began to shoot ordinary items, such as crayons and toy blocks, as if through a child’s eyes, often from low angles that transform them into looming objects of mystery. This childlike perspective emulates photographic seeing on some level, whereby the camera’s optics transform the world through unexpected scale, light and focus. This attentiveness to photographic seeing and to everyday surroundings pervades the entirety of Morell’s oeuvre. In his camera obscura series, Morell turns entire rooms, often inside his home, into darkened camera interiors where the outside view is projected through an “aperture” in the window and into the room, upside down and backwards. Thus, he mimics the way it feels to be inside the camera during the making of a photograph— a literal and metaphorical juxtaposition of interior and exterior. This monograph allows the reader to thread connections through Morell’s various projects. In one image, Morell looks down over a paper grocery bag that stands upright on the floor, opening into total blackness. This is reminiscent of his series on Alice in Wonderland, in which he focuses on a dark hole cut through the center of the book. It also echoes the camera obscura work, in which the aperture leads to a darkened interior. Ultimately, Morell tells us again and again that in the middle of our daily lives we might find entryways to other places—places that can only be seen through the camera’s lens, which transforms our world and our sight into something magical. DENISE WOLFF

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