Commissioned by curator Mia Fineman for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
This series is a photographic dialogue between Manjari Sharma and Irina Rozovsky—a conversation through images. Over a five-month period spanning the 2017 US election, the two artists exchanged iPhone photographs in real time, using a call and response manner. Living different lives in different cities, Sharma and Rozovsky approached the exchange as a form of modern-day letter writing. Their improvisational images recorded personal chronologies, circling themes of the public world versus the domestic, current political tensions, and abstracts of everyday life seen askew. Most importantly, the dialogue builds upon the complex theme of the creation of new life, as the artists, both pregnant during this project, conclude the 122 image conversation (77 submitted here) with the arrival of their newborns.
Photography becomes the conduit, a way to ameliorate and navigate many of these contradictory emotions. The use of a camera phone for this visual ping-pong allows for honesty and a casual immediacy. The camera phone lends itself to a seamless intimate exchange permitting play and experimentation. As an everyday tool, the iPhone reflects not only the current but also the social, technological and global moment.
As troubled Trump era politics add volatility to the American mindset, flummoxed emotions surrounding impending birth come in and out of view throughout this exchange. Sheer rapture, fear, awe, and mind-boggling anticipation spill out onto the surface of everyday life as inanimate objects become stand-ins to reflect the artists’ inner states. While growing a child is an extremely fragile and tender process; it is also unmistakably fierce. As a result, the images created reflect upon the the dilemma of bringing a life into a seemingly tumultuous world, the mystery and enigma of childbirth, and the chaos and violence that it is born through.