“The Unseen Marion Faller” exhibition at Buffalo’s CEPA Gallery, presenting work by the late photographer and UB professor, is resonantly titled. The work is “unseen” in part because many of the show’s pieces have never been presented in a gallery setting—but also in part because Faller’s renown has long been obscured by the captivating figure cast by her husband and frequent artistic collaborator, Hollis Frampton. In fact, fanfare for Frampton is often accompanied by mesmerizing images of him created by Faller, who, behind the lens, is literally unseen.
This show and sale puts Faller (MFA ’79) squarely in the limelight. Her work focuses on everyday phenomena from an understated feminist perspective: Viewers see neighborhood markets, children at play, homes decked out for holidays, backyard parties. One group of pictures, titled “Hey Baby, Take My Picture,” shows a variety of guys on the street mugging for the camera. Faller made the series by photographing the men who would call out to her as she walked with her camera in early 1970s New York City.
Faller, who died in 2014, exhibited widely in her lifetime, and her photographs are held in several museum collections. She taught at UB from 1982 to 2006. “Almost every photographer in the area has had a class with her or knew her in some way, so [the show] is very personal,” says Dean Brownrout, the fine art dealer representing Faller’s work. “Many people have a connection to Marion who haven’t had an opportunity to celebrate her life and work.” The CEPA exhibition, which runs through July 8, is their chance to do just that.