Pamela Klaffke‘s innocent old-tech photographs, mostly of her masked daughter Emma, evoke the complex emotions of childhood—the often dark memories of conflict—of feeling more an animal than the perfect child in a world where the conformities expected by elders often do not make sense. At the same time there is dichotomy—the series reflects the perceptions of the parent trying to tame the beast of the child.
Every animal is a mask and is pre-laden with meaning. When combined with the child’s pose in a given location, each image suggests possible narratives: the teenage fox on the phone in the dark woods, the Dalmatian on the long road, the little zebra’s stripes blending in with its keyboard scarf and toy microphone innocently gesturing the devil’s “rock on” in the cement hallway of the first concert, or the hedgehog, perhaps referencing Little Red Riding Hood, wringing her hands in the bare woods.
Thus the mask is a wall between parent and child, or more generally, between adult and child. The greater depth of this work is in the interplay of this dual role: is it what is presented or is it what is perceived. And beyond that, what is the symbiosis of the two. Knowing these photographs are the creative, interactive play, directed by a parent with imaginative children—childhood, parenthood, memory, fear, hope, and promise unfold and intertwine like the complex possibilities of life itself.