Text of course tells a story – everyone who has ever picked up a book knows that, and knows too that a series of photographs also can create a narrative. Karen Hanmer’s artistry in Reunion lies in the integration of the two media, combining them with particular book arts technique into a quietly powerful whole.
The text story is a simple one – boy meets girl, boy marries girl. Almost all the photographs show them as a couple with one defining, challenging difference: pictures of the pair together are grayed out, and the photograph on the extension of the page, carefully folded half-way over the screened photograph, shows the man alone in sharp unscreened definition.
The special art of the book is in that modified gate-fold, for it reinforces the message of the text, defining their relationship and their separation. The subjects, the artist’s parents, were married for only 19 years when her mother died; her father lived alone for the next 34 years. The photographs are loving and playful, and the narrative telling, but the pain of the separation lies in the distinctive physical properties of the book. Having told this difficult tale, the book finally celebrates a figurative reunion.