Duality omnipresent, objects doubled, relationships essentially exist as their very own Geminis. Often photography is conceived as an action in which the photographer reveals the other, the illusion, the gaze. Showing the viewer something that they’ve never seen before, showing the audience a new myth. Often times we can become lost in the photographer’s role as the conjurer, mystic, and magician and forget to see how the image that the photographer makes is so reflective of the photographer themselves. In “Olive Juice”, a collaboration between Molly Matalon & Damien Maloney we are exposed to the work of two artists capable of revealing things about one another while simultaneously revealing a lot about themselves.
In Olive Juice we find the two on the American road trip, a classic photography trope, another stab at revealing something else about the new world. However, while they dance along the cliché Matalon and Maloney’s take on the classic experience is executed in an endearingly genuine way. This shared vision is something much quieter than it is extravagant and as you look through the book you can really see how the artists’ visions begin to merge. This is a prime example of what collaboration should be in photography.
While the homage to Shore and Soth is obvious, we aren’t being beaten over the head with this work. Nothing is so painfully referential, we aren’t drowning in nods to photographic past, in fact this is a surprisingly fresh, gentle, unpretentious take that I’m ashamed it took me so long to really sit down with it. The images feel dense and crafted and seem to reference a sort of still life practice fairly frequently. Frames are consistently minimal causing nothing to feel too crowded, giving the images a lot of room to breathe. This is also reflective in the book’s sequencing which is extremely steadily paced with a consistency so solid that it’s hard to believe that the book is a collaboration between two people and not the work of an individual.
However, if you’re familiar with either Matalon or Maloney’s work you might be able to reveal who took what picture. This task if asked of the average viewer would be impossible.
Sequencing in Olive Juice is powerful, as none of the images overwhelm the others rendering each picture worthy of your time. A few stand out to me. A hula dancer on a car dash, Manzanita Hall in Tempe, AZ, the rainbow over the water, the yellow and cream-colored orchid, the portrait of Maloney in the mirror towards the end. However, this book is much more than a bunch of individual images, it’s a remarkably aware look into intimacy, a lesson in what makes a quiet type of picture, the comprehension of duality. It’s about using your practice as a tool to reveal more about yourself to others. To me, Olive Juice is a delicate and revealing work that takes the cliché and reminds you why you love it, it asks us to listen more than speak, it helps us remember that less is often more. To me all of these things help make it a work I’ll never grow tired of.
Publisher: VUU Studio
review by Christian Michael Filardo
copyright © Damien Maloney & Molly Matalon and PHROOM, all rights reserved