Jordanna Kalman’s Poetic Response To The Misuse Of Her Photographs
For Jordanna Kalman, a photograph is more than its content—it is both subject and object: “It belongs to someone; it gets held, it has weight, value.” The New York photographer’s series ‘Little Romances’ explores this idea by creating multi-layered photographs of photographs.
‘Little Romances’ was motivated by her interest in the physical nature of the photograph and the misappropriation and use of her work without permission online. Much of Kalman’s work is centered on her identity as mother, daughter, wife, and lover—and the expectations and reality of her ability to fulfill these roles. Though infinitely personal, her work is profound because it reflects a broader experience of womanhood. It is precisely because of its universal nature that her work is appropriated by others. “In sharing my work online, sometimes it is treated withrespect, but more often not” Kalman explains. “Not being asked for its use, and/or not being credited—it’s upsetting being treated that way especially with such personal images.”
In ‘Little Romances’ she counteracts this by photographing prints of her own photographs. In doing so, she creates a physical object—“my object”— that cannot be understood by others in the way that it is understood by her. “I surround them with elements from my garden or other personal items not to evoke nostalgia or sentimentality but to deepen my physical connection/claim to these images and distance them from the viewer”, she explains. In doing so, the photograph becomes “obscured, repurposed, diverted, so that its original intent remains safe from viewing and at the same time it explores a new narrative.”