Intimate Stranger is a lens-based photographic series produced in Miami by Zachary Balber between 2013 and 2020. Only a few images of it have been seen before in group exhibitions. Artmedia Gallery is pleased to show this whole body of work for the first time to the public.
Some keys for the reading of the principal motivations, feelings, and concepts behind Intimate Stranger lie in the deconstruction of the strategies applied by the artist when taking his pictures. Zack Balber has combined in every one of them the photography and performance practices —the latter, in a private and solitary display, conceived to be recorded by the camera.
The spaces of luxury houses and apartments, where Balber fulfilled his routine job as a real estate photographer, were transformed by him into the ideal photographic stages for the multiplication of his auto-representations. The first problem the viewer of his photos confronts is if the artist is an accomplished, multifaceted actor able to be the main character of many stories of others or if he is always the theme of his images exploring his thoughts, fantasies —even his demons— and life experiences. Maybe the exhibition can provide enough hints for achieving the best answer to this inquiry.
With a total of 150 images placed in the core of our contemporaneity, Intimate Stranger is a prolific, highly imaginative, and visually inventive series, and, thanks to that, it is crossed by a bunch of discourses. They imply filial issues, economic and political concerns, gender problematics —particularly about masculinity—, a questioning vision of contemporary art, and so much.
The mood of these discourses, in the dialog with the spectator, runs through the most varied emotional states. They can change from one photograph to another: from sadness to euphoria, from sarcasm to praise. Sometimes, you can get “a fuck-you” comment, but others, in an elusive movement, are presented with the poignant, mournful feeling of loss.
About the artist
Zachary Balber has been a frequent presence in the Miami contemporary art circuit exhibition since he got his BFA in Creative Photography at the University of Florida, New World School of the Arts, in 2009. His work has also been included in several American private and institutional collections. In the past decade, he was considered by the local critique one of the lens-based artists emerging in Miami that should be followed.
About the curator
José Antonio Navarrete (Cuban-Venezuelan, based in Miami) is a critic, researcher, and independent art and visual culture curator. He is in charge of the ArtMedia curatorial program and participates in several international projects as a curator or writer contributor.
About the gallery
Artmedia Gallery was founded in 2012. With a location in Little River, Miami, Florida, the gallery has the mission to exhibit and promote contemporary art based on photography and video practices. One of the gallery’s central objectives is to explore the vast possibilities of the expanded notion of art through media technology.