Sibling Rivalry

Lydia Panas lures families and friends to the fields of her 75-acre farm in rural Kutztown, Pa., and shoots them. With a camera, that is. Her “Mark of Abel” series derives its name from Diane Arbus, who wrote, “If, as is often said, you can’t win, it is perhaps because when you do you have so much to lose. To put it a little gloomily, winning could be called the mark of Abel.” Abel was murdered because his sacrifice of a lamb was better received than his brother’s vegetarian fare. “He was killed because of his success,” Panas says. “There’s something dangerous about climbing higher and higher. For me what it refers to is complicated family relationships. There’s competition. Rivalry.” The complexity of family dynamic is captured in A Suspended Moment, in which the father and eldest brother retreat to the background, and the youngest children are both partially obscured. Like Abel, the second son dominates the foreground. “I don’t ask them to do anything except stand there,” Panas says. “We learn to put on a public pose. I’m trying to go underneath that thing. I’m trying to touch whatever may be going on inside ... a combination of strength and fear.”
Thu., Sept. 13, 2012

 
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