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P O L LY G A I L L A R D

Fo re w a rd b y JA M I E L E E C U RT I S

Pressure Points


POLLY GAILLARD

Pressure Points


For Abby.


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Introduction Pressure Points is a photographic series that documents my post-divorce life with my daughter. I am interested in the awkward moments we share together that reveal idiosyncrasies, intimacy or distance. At times, I set the stage for a photographic moment to occur and other times I observe as she is unaware of my presence. The divorce plays out in our lives both in subtle and startling ways as I observe her through windows, behind a sofa pillow, or in the shade of my house. The awkwardness of childhood surprises me as I record fragments of her body through the lens; fragments that refer to the severing of the family unit. It is a half-life we share due to custody obligations. She is here and then she is gone.

remnants of her presence, or what remains after she is absent from the scene. I am interested in how these daily actions accrue meaning, or stand in for her despite her absence. These remnants take the shape of ordinary things: a plastic bag that contained chocolate, Barbie dolls in the bathtub, or the remains of breakfast in the late morning light. The remnants, either photographed or scanned become a marker of her life left by her presence. Each object and moment is obsessively collected and scanned or documented by the camera in a way that refers to the difficulty of letting go and the thoughts of loss that follow. The photographs from Pressure Points strive to monumentalize moments with my child and the objects she has encountered or arranged in my effort to comment on the significance of motherhood, memory, and loss.

My process of exploration shifts at times from constructing or observing the scene to documenting

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Foreward Childhood. It is the formation of a self; it is, as all studies have proven, the most important time. As a parent it is confounding, baffling, profound, and the most love and loss you can ever feel. As a child it is mysterious and boring and exciting and open and scary. A great friend of mine said that it is the only relationship that you ever have where the GOAL is separation.

These are pictures of something she sees and then doesn’t. That forced separation from her divorce, gives the photographs a sharp perspective of longing and the awaiting of a return. Life is hard. We want, for all children to have them experience the great beauty and bounty of life but life is filled with people and people are flawed and contradictory and therefore there is loss and sadness and pain. All these are integral to a life and are evident in these photographs.

In 2009, I was asked to judge the Texas Photographic Society’s International Childhood Exhibit competition. There were thousands of images and the winner I chose was Polly Gaillard. I found, that as I went through the random images, the ones I sparked to were all hers. There was a point of view that synched with my eye and heart. We see things from a similar lens. The way things appear, the way light plays a part in the image, the ubiquitousness of something juxtaposed against an original form, the banality of an object seen in a new way, reflections on the past and hope for the future, the lack of forced smiles and the great beauty in a steady gaze. And then, there is the color. The palette of a life, the way color tells the story as much as the subject and the light.

My husband and I have collected photographs over the years. Mostly they are of children. Dorothea Lange, Sally Mann, Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis, Paul Outerbridge Jr. They all saw children and watched and caught something real, something perfect and precious as only a child can be. Perfect and precious. Ms. Gaillard’s photographs will be included in this collection. Her images delight and demonstrate the simple pleasures of a life. Bold, quiet, restful, lonely and filled with love and whimsy. Childhood redux. ­ — Jamie Lee Curtis

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The Notes After the marital separation, I started analyzing my daughter’s artwork and handwriting hoping that it would reveal something about her state of mind. I needed to know that she was okay. As an artist, visuals are the way I communicate; I thought possibly she would do the same. She did. There were drawings of tears in her Christmas card to me that first year and drawings of the two separate houses she now went between. There were other drawings of father/daughter and mother/daughter. Once she had drawn the three of us together, now each parent was confined to separate pages.

I had developed a habit of collecting these things, notes she pins to the door, puts in front of me as I work, very simplistic naïve messages written by a child and her understanding and questioning of the world. I became interested in saving scraps of paper where I had started a thought or list and she intervened with her own writing to ask if she could put on her pajamas or play an online game. As I compiled the scraps of paper, plastic bags, envelopes, legal pads, and post-its, they became physical markers of our life together and proof of the intimacy we share. The notes are a place that my daughter’s and my life remain entwined, never to be interrupted by custody obligations.

As time went by, the there were notes that she loved me, missed me and her drawings once again turned to happy faces, flowers and sunshine. I was relieved. 

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Index 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 41 43

Mommy/Daddy Car Balloons House Balloon Face Sofa Pillows XO Bedroom Window Polka Dots Cardboard Box Barbie Gymnast Bath Song Bathtub Barbies Silly Bands Corn Band-Aid Allergy Back Easter Eggs Lice Treatment Retainer, Tooth Fairy Bag Red Scissors Christmas Dress Laundry Fort Cookie Line Plot Stingray TV Aquarium Stairway Standing Notebook Acupuncture Cat Mask Chrissa Oliver JB Shower Curtain

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Biohazard Apple Juice Pink Monkey Jessie Christmas Lights Pink Slide LPS Computer Notes, Demi Breakfast Balloons Pink Ball Flying Tutu Corner Horse Pop-Tart, After Party Chrissa’s tea Fairy House Melting Angel New Shoes Blue Goggles Funny Mirror Pink Bath White Gown First Kiss Shark Teeth, New Tooth Bag Oranges Plastic Bag #1 Red Lollypop Pomegranate Sick Day Green Finger


Polly Gaillard, currently an Instructor of Photography at Anderson University in South Carolina, received her Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010. She has taught photography at Furman University in South Carolina and for the University of New Orleans Prague Summer Seminars. Her work has been exhibited nationally. Polly resides in Greenville, South Carolina with her daughter and best friend, Abby. Pressure Points is Polly’s first book of photography.†www.pollygaillard.com

book designed by Philip Belger www.pbelger.com



Pressure Points