|Home Work, Photographs by Tessa Bunney. |
Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2011.
Reviewed by Karen Jenkins
Tessa Bunney Home Work
Photographs by Tessa Bunney
Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2011. Hardbound. 112 pp., 53 color illustrations, 9-1/4x6-1/2".
The photographs collected in Home Work are a high point in Tessa Bunney's ongoing exploration of traditional rural ways of life increasingly encroached upon by modern industrial society. The series looks at the agrarian communities surrounding Hanoi, Vietnam slated to be systematically absorbed into this burgeoning urban center. Yet the resulting images represent neither a 'before' nor 'after' to the inevitable. Rather, they compel us to consider what it can mean to adapt, looking at how these "craft villages" are striving to survive the loss of land and livelihood by tapping into local resources and devising small scale industries to bridge the gap. The future is uncertain and a lucid account of the political and environmental implications of this transformation can be found in two scholarly essays and Bunney's introduction. Several images within Home Work echo this broad view, speaking overtly of the looming urban landscape via billboards and construction sites. These are not Bunney's best, but they set the tone for how we read her more intimate views. As the open fields vanish, work moves home and it is within this intersection of the industrial and the domestic that Bunney finds her richest material.
Karen Jenkins earned a Master's degree in Art History, specializing in the History of Photography from the University of Arizona. She has held curatorial positions at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ and the Demuth Museum in Lancaster, PA. Most recently she helped to debut a new arts project, Art in the Open Philadelphia, that challenges contemporary artists to reimagine the tradition of creating works of art en plein air for the 21st century.