Michal Chelbin, "Xenia on a Couch, Russia, 2003", 2003.

Michal Chelbin, “Xenia on a Couch, Russia, 2003”, 2003.

Michal Chelbin

The images in this series attempt to capture human stories in everyday life, those that exist in the space between the odd and the ordinary.

I photograph people who are outside of mainstream society, many of whom are small town stage performers, dwarfs in a theatre play, circus artists, or young contortionists.

Although my subjects are sometimes in costume and sometimes in everyday clothes, they are photographed in settings off stage – at home, on the street, or in a park, creating a seemingly private moment in contrast to when they are on stage.

The main themes in my work are not social or topical, but private and mythical. I search for people who have a legendary quality in them; a mix between odd and ordinary. My images are vehicles to address universal themes such as family issues, ideas of normality, puberty, and the desire for fame.

I am interested in visual contrasts between young and old, large and small, innocence and experience, normal and abnormal, private and public, fiction and documentary. For me the image presents a gate to a story waiting to be told, a story about a life full of contradictions on the battle-ground between fantasy and reality.

Now based in New York City, Israeli-born, Michal Chelbin studied at the Wizo Academy of Design & Education in Haifa , Israel . Her work has been shown in the US at Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles , Yossi Milo Gallery in NYC, and abroad at the Photographer’s Gallery in London , Hendrik Andersen Museum in Rome , the National Portrait Gallery in London , and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. She is the recipient of an Israeli Lottery Board Grant, a Rabinowitz Foundation Grant, and an America-Israel Cultural Foundation Grant. Chelbin was an artist-in-residence at Hameau des Artistes in Paris , France and her work is in the collections of the Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, as well as Sir Elton John’s collection. Publications include NY Arts Magazine, Aperture, B&W Magazine, and LA Times.

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