Elyse Defoor’s “Relics of Marriage” project is haunting and poignant. With enigmatic grace, it invites a meditation on the time-honored rites of marriage, their contradictions and joys, and their deeply felt meanings.
Keough Family Curator of Photography & Head of Collections
High Museum of Art
The conversation between word and image here is captivating: Defoor’s evocative photographs of wedding dresses are brilliantly counterpointed by the bittersweet wit of the dresses’ owners as they reflect on the romance of weddings and realities of married life.
Jerry William Cullum, PhD
Curator and critic
Senior Editor of Art Papers, 1984 – 2011
The personal comments that accompany the brilliant photographic portraits in “Relics of Marriage” invite the reader to think more deeply about the conventions of marriage, its value in present day society, and women’s expectations in the pursuit of happiness.
Artist and happily married feminist
Defoor’s beautiful images of wedding dresses for her series, “Relics of Marriage,” rely on stark contrasts between the luminescence of the dresses and a dark void surrounding and behind them. The images glow, but they do not romanticize. Something lost hovers over them. Something desperate, and you get the sense that whatever remains of the marriages they represent, they can’t return to something left behind. The images evoke yearning for lost union, emblems for lost, if not unrequited, love.
Senior Editor for Don’t Take Pictures
“Relics of Marriage” upholds the tradition of marriage while simultaneously undermining it.
The wedding dresses Defoor captures appear as ghostly apparitions from the past, conjuring a maelstrom of contradictory expectations, projections, desires, and lessons learned. The work is at once tragic, intimate, comical, and profound.
Artist and Visual Arts Critic for ArtsATL