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In her own portraits, she looks glum, dejected, staring at the ground or into the lens with a withering squint, as if she cannot believe she is doing this. Vintage cameras had long exposure times, requiring the sitter to hold the same expression forever.
I don’t know why Julia chose to glower, but if I had to guess, I would think she knew she could grimace for a full hour. The type of camera Julia used wasn’t made for experiments; each snap was a big commitment.
Maybe they are lonesome and hungry for connection, projecting their own lack of community onto this woman’s solo show, believing her to be isolated rather than expansive.
They don’t see where her image is headed, where it will take up space in the infinite.
I think about Julia Margaret Cameron, who got her first camera as a gift, in 1863, when she was 48 years old. We know this from her great-niece, Virginia Woolf, who wrote that Julia was an ugly duckling in a family full of cameo complexions; her nickname was “Talent,” where her sisters got to be called “Beauty.” Cameron became instantly obsessed with photography and dove into her second act.