Given the sheer volume of stuff bursting Flickr's virtual seams and tumbling out of studios belonging to everyone from fine artists to part-timers at Sears, is there anything new to discover about the overexposed, early 21st-century human form? Self-taught photographer Thomas Dozol wades into this glut of human images in a new solo exhibition at Opal Gallery. And with some aplomb he manages to peel back yet another layer of the onion that is our shared humanity.
In I'll Be Your Mirror, Dozol photographs 25 friends, acquaintances and family members in their bathrooms and private spaces, all within 15 minutes of stepping out of the shower. Most are still wet. "Caroline" is (perhaps) shivering, perched tensely on her bed, while "Timothee," "Kai," and half a dozen other men are caught in the middle of shaving or suspended in some other personal ritual. All of Dozol's subjects seem to have been caught daydreaming, wearing what Dozol calls "the authentic face" during the most honest moment of the day.
Dozol is a native of Martinique and the partner of R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, one of the 25 subjects in I'll Be Your Mirror. Dozol chronicles his inner circle mainly in Athens and New York City. It's a circle that includes a roster of musicians, artists and fashion industry types, among them Gwyneth Paltrow and Mike Mills. Dozol just happens to have access to their bathrooms.
At 16 inches square, the prints are relatively small, save for the 12-foot-by-10-foot print that greets both gallery visitors and passers-by on the street. This smaller-than-human dimension underscores the tightness and closeness of the photographer and his subjects. The photos become fragile documents of an intense, internal domestic stillness that each of us moves through every day.
Does the world need another portrait photographer? If it's an artist with the fearless intimacy of Thomas Dozol, then the answer must be a resounding yes.
I'll be Your Mirror: Photographs by Thomas Dozol. Through Jan. 10. Thurs.-Sat., noon-7 p.m. Opal Gallery, 484 B-2 Moreland Ave. 678-717-8890. www.theopalgallery.com.
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