Rosalind Fox Solomon lived nearly half a lifetime before she picked up a camera at the age of 38. She’s since exhibited her intimate black-and-white portraits in galleries and museums around the world. Solomon’s new book from MACK, Got to Go, draws on Solomon’s life pre- and post-photography, combining images she’s made throughout her career with short texts, some of which hint at her life before she picked up a camera.
Many of the texts begin with the words, “Mother says…” and end with statements that give an impression of a tough, sharp-witted and conservative maternal figure. One of the book’s spreads shows a photograph of a straight-faced young black girl in sunglasses and a foam Statue of Liberty crown, under which the text reads, “mother says/SMILE, YOUR FACE WON’T CRACK.” The opposite page shows a young white girl in a ball gown, beauty queen’s sash and a tiara, smiling for the camera, with a text that reads, “mother says/WIPE THAT SMILE OFF YOUR FACE.” Other texts recall a father’s affection and discipline, and an affair that led to a mother’s suicide attempt.
Fox Solomon’s photographs depict people in a wide range of social and economic circumstances from around the world: A middle-aged New York matron; a Bamako portrait photographer; a Colombian double amputee. The images were made between the late 1970s and 2006, but they all seem of a similar time. The contrast of one family’s story playing out in the text with the vast experience hinted at in Solomon’s photographs alludes to both the singularity and universality of human experience, and, perhaps, to the door that photography opened for Solomon to find a wider understanding of the world. —Conor Risch
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