New York

Phyllis Galembo

Oggi Domani

In her color photographs since the late ’70s Phyllis Galembo has pursued a campy theatricality, dressing people in absurd costumes (some suggesting Carmen Miranda’s fruit bowls) and posing them among artfully crude sets in splashy colors. An argument could be made that these pictures are linked formally to two apparently disparate genres in photography, setups and hand-decorated prints, but Galembo’s tableaux belie such connections through their utter wackiness. Beneath their exuberance, though, most of her pictures have a dark undercurrent of anxiety, a sense of straining after hilarity.

Several of the photographs here bring these two qualities of Galembo’s work into sharp confrontation, shifting the cutesy coyness of her earlier pictures to a new and affecting emotional honesty. Her theme is one by now so familiar in contemporary photography that it’s in danger of becoming a cliché—the

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