• Domestic Fictions: A Life Less Ordinary

    Featuring: Jo Ann Callis, Bruce Charlesworth, and Mary Frey

    ROSEGALLERY is pleased to present Domestic Fictions: A Life Less Ordinary, a focused curation of staged photographs by Jo Ann Callis, Bruce Charlesworth, and Mary Frey. A throwback to the charged, introspective themes of MoMA’s 1991 group show Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort


    19 November 2022 - 14 January 2023


    Press Release

  •  Curator Peter Galassi — who was promoted to head of the Department of Photography during its remarkable run — stated in MoMA’s 1991 press release that artists, “began to photograph at home not because it was important, in the sense that political issues are important, but because it was there—the one place that is easier to get to than the street.” But don’t let his understatement fool you: these were not convenient photos. By playing with thematic poles, for instance, situating the blatantly contrived beside the rigorously documentarian, audiences were drawn deeper and deeper into the real or imagined drama of the subjects. This non-sociological, non-objective perspective (instilled by the sheer number of artists, some 70-plus) moved beyond a representation of home life as expected, suggesting instead the interior state of being at home.

  • So now, ROSEGALLERY pays humble homage to Galassi, exhibiting works from a trio of artists who all contributed to his...

    Mary Frey, from the series Real Life Dramas, 1984-87

     So now, ROSEGALLERY pays humble homage to Galassi, exhibiting works from a trio of artists who all contributed to his luminary-laden group show. Callis’ close-up photos of her own fastidiously-crafted tiny furniture pieces fetishizes the banality of “interior design,” playing with lighting, shadow, perspective and textures to elicit sublime reaction. While Callis tends to reduce to form, blur mysteriously, or even omit the human subject entirely, Frey reverses this process, instead producing “staged” documentarian photos, so tender, so emotive, the uninitiated would assume Reality was forever and always an extenuation of the frame. And while Callis and Frey conceal their staged quality, Charlesworth pushes this technique out the window, per se, electing for extreme-lighting, steep contrasts, and unreal saturations to instantly signal his human subjects have broken from the Real, instead habituating themselves in unnerving limbo.

  • According to Galassi, these artists stood out at the time by “reworking the domestic cliches of popular imagery” to “examine...
    Jo Ann Callis, from the series Interiors, 1995

    According to Galassi, these artists stood out at the time by “reworking the domestic cliches of popular imagery” to “examine the role of the mass media in shaping private lives.” MoMA ‘91 was nothing shy of a prophetic anticipation of today’s self-curated blur, a blur so willing to strip us of privacy itself. But  what of that? ROSEGALLERY graciously invites contemporary audiences to pause and wonder: what does domesticity actually feel like? What marvels and phobias inhabit all those private lives behind the stream of images we do or don’t see on the regular?

  • “Home became… a place where others judged your worth as a homemaker and a wife, even as a person. Home became a container for never quite measuring up.”

    — from “The Home In My Head” by Jennifer A. Watts


  •  Jo Ann Callis has been widely exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hammer Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

  • I used to think, “Oh, there is a pitcher, and there’s the cup.” And I was like, “Oh, yawn yawn. Why is this interesting?” So I thought, what if I took each of the objects in the still life and focused on them individually. And then let the viewer put them together in whatever way, because usually in normal still life with perspective, something in the foreground is usually more important or in focus.

    - Jo Ann Callis

  • From the series 'Interiors', 1995


  • Bruce Charlesworth is represented in the permanent collections of both the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Fundação de Serralves in Oporto, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

  • 'I’ve always embraced the potential for thematic crossover between multiple media. For most of my projects, I develop a conceptual...

    Bruce Charlesworth, #21, from the series Fate, 1985


    "I’ve always embraced the potential for thematic crossover between multiple media. For most of my projects, I develop a conceptual framework before adding concrete details. Although my finished works often contain characters, dialogue, emotions and narrative, I always start in an abstract place. An idea may begin as a shape, color relationship or directional lines. The architecture will often come next, with characters and stories evolving out of a sense of place. My themes include lighting and color as visual disruptions, layers created by barriers and screens, extremes of distance and contrasts of vastness with confined space. The anthropomorphic potential of inanimate objects is another recurring theme in my work."
    - Bruce Charlesworth
  • From the series 'Fate', 1984-85


  • Mary Frey is part of many public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Chicago Art Institute, and the International Polaroid Collection.

  • From the series 'Real Life Dramas', 1984-87

  • Back in the mid-eighties, the notion that a photograph presents an objective depiction of reality was being questioned by many photographers, including myself. How is meaning attached to an image? How does framing, point of view, rendering, and all the other choices a photographer makes influence this meaning? Can a photograph really capture truth? I would argue that a photograph holds its own truth - or fiction - and therein lies its strength. The fact that we trust what the photograph shows us feeds into this concept, giving it credibility. 

    - Mary Frey


  • From the series 'Domestic Rituals', 1979-83

  • For press inquiries, please contact elisabetta@rosegallery.net or jaushua@rosegallery.net


    Press Kit