This book features richly detailed, internally charged portraits of small town performers in circuses and other traveling troupes taken over a period of six years in the Ukraine, Russia, Israel and England. Chelbin’s most frequent subjects are children and adolescents, yet her work encompasses a mix of generations. As Leah Ollman notes in the book’s text, “The atmosphere falls somewhere between public and private. There’s a slight titillation of having personal access to performers who, typically, are experienced only remotely. Most immediate, though, are the visual contrasts between young and old, large and small, innocence and experience.” Often captured in performance costumes, Chelbin’s palette is intense, with a distinctive use of saturated pinks, blues, and greens. Her black-and-white images, which are intermingled throughout the book, have an almost Pictorialist richness. Though her influences are evident—most notably August Sander and Diane Arbus—the photographs in Strangely Familiar have a unique visual and emotional impact. Aperture—located in New York’s Chelsea art district—is a world-renowned non-profit publisher and exhibition space dedicated to promoting photography in all its forms. Aperture was founded in 1952 by photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, and Minor White; historian Beaumont Newhall; and writer/curator Nancy Newhall, among others. These visionaries created a new quarterly periodical, Aperture magazine, to foster both the development and the appreciation of the photographic medium and its practitioners. In the 1960s, Aperture expanded to include the publication of books (over five hundred to date) that comprise one of the most comprehensive and innovative libraries in the history of photography and art. Aperture’s programs now include artist lectures and panel discussions, limited-edition photographs, and traveling exhibitions that show at major museums and arts institutions in the U.S. and internationally.
Aperture—a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to advancing photography in all its forms—was founded in 1952 by six gifted individuals: photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, and Minor White; historian Beaumont Newhall; and writer/curator Nancy Newhall. With scant resources, these visionary artists created a new periodical, Aperture magazine, to serve photographers and photography enthusiasts worldwide. As the medium flourished, so too did Aperture Foundation, expanding to include the subsequent publication of books (over four hundred to date); limited-edition photographs and portfolios; artist lectures and symposia; and a traveling exhibitions program that since its inception has presented over one hundred exhibitions at major museums and cultural institutions throughout the United States and abroad.