Exhibition of the month #6: Behind Closed Doors, by Raphaël Dallaporta and Andre Penteado
If Evgenia Arbugaeva’s show at the Calumet Photographic Gallery is tricky to gain access to, it’s a doddle compared to the exhibitions at the Fitzrovia Community Centre in Foley Street W1. The work is displayed in a series of strip-lit municipal basement rooms, manned by kindly, enthusiastic and helpful staff, but completely cut off from normal traffic. Which is a crying shame, as these exhibitions are compelling.
Behind Closed Doors is “an exhibition looking at two very different examples of the lengths people go to in pursuit of domestic order. In Domestic Slavery [French photographer] Raphaël Dallaporta and [writer] Ondine Millot address… modern slavery. Dallaporta’s cold and stark images of ordinary-looking buildings in and around Paris, shot simply and in the same light, are combined with Ondine Millot’s texts to become chilling portraits of hidden agony… Across the Atlantic in Brazil, having one or more domestic maids is the norm for middle class families. As the country’s economy booms, larger and more luxurious apartments are springing up and with them a heightened need for maids to keep them clean. However, the women who traditionally take on positions as maids are at the same time becoming increasingly empowered and finding alternative forms of employment. Artist Andre Penteado’s project Brazilian Maids presents photographic and video work exploring this ‘maid problem’, which is currently a hot topic of discussion in Brazil.”
Penteado’s project is thought-provoking, Dallaporta and Millot’s is frankly horrifying. Both are beautifully photographed. Both deserve a wide audience, to be seen and talked about – this is what documentary photography is all about.