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Dovrat Amsily-Barak

Photography’s trump card has always been its ability to reproduce exactly and expose effortlessly the world itself, even when the photographer has much narrower intentions in mind. This element of surprise, what Roland Barthes called photography’s punctum, has long been its mark of distinction.

But in Israeli photographer Dovrat Amsily-Barak’s Déjà Vu at the C. Grimaldis Gallery, her first in the United States, nothing appears to have been left to chance. The 10 large-format photographs are all intricately composed images of nuns, mothers, and children, living in what appears to be an earlier, pre-photographic time. Only the crispness of the image and the absence of the frame keep you from assuming they’re photographs of paintings.

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