review

Alyson Belcher
Self

Woodstock Times -December 9, 2010
SMART ART by Paul Smart


Self

The black and white works in self, the new solo show at Galerie BMG up this month, have a fleeting nature about them that resembles the manner in which we all acknowledge who we really are, versus who we imagine ourselves to be. They include repetitions, ghostly images, imperfections, and the sense of half-captured truths we know from seeing our own selves in mirrors, photographs, and that we can see with our own eyes looking down and around from our heads, so filled with other imagery.

In other words, there's something innately comfortable and yet simultaneously unsettling about these intimate-yet-staged photographs by San Francisco-based Alyson Belcher, who combines the haphazard beauties of pinhole photography with improvisational performance.

"My work stems from the idea that everything we experience is stored somewhere in our bodies. Movement is one way to access and give visual form to what lies beneath the surface of the skin, Belcher writes of the ideas behind her almost surrealistic work. "The making of these photographs is an exploration of the nature of each movement and where it originates internally…The images often reveal stories that may or may not have been known to me previously. That doesn't mean that they aren't my stories. Often the body remembers what the mind has forgotten."

Belcher, who gained an M.F.A. from San Francisco State University after studying humanities at UC Berkeley, is currently on the full-time faculty at the Academy of Art University in the Bay City. Her work has been exhibited throughout the country and has been the subject of articles in numerous photography publications.

She says she works with pinhole cameras because of their low-tech nature, and the fact that with no lens providing interference, as well as no viewfinder, "it's a relatively blind process."

"The element of time in pinhole photography allows something to arise that might never be revealed by modern photographic technology," Belcher adds. "The long exposure times give me an opportunity to explore the space in front of the camera. I may have the impulse to move, or I may chose to remain still - although the body is never completely still, and even the smallest movements leave traces on the film."