Ellen Jong Shares Her Husband

For Ellen Jong, her first solo show at Allegra La Viola Gallery is a deeply intimate project stemming from her book, The Invisible Line, published two years ago. “To encounter the people and places in my book firsthand,” she says. “You often find that the book is very close to the real thing, which is kind of refreshing, right?”

The show covers four years of Jong’s relationship with her husband, which is dotted with everyday objects, significant landscapes, birthdays and anniversaries, and very intimate moments of affection and being naked. Amani Olu, curator and executive director/co-founder of the Humble Arts Foundation, served as the show’s curator. Jong says, “It was really important for Amani to make the selection for the show, as he had a very unemotional attachment to each of the images in the book. Even if it’s a small selection, he did a very good job in translating that into the gallery.”

Presenting close-range, candid photography of blooming flowers, her cat, and (quite frequently) her husband’s penis is not without its difficulties. Accompanied by a handwritten poem and a small home video, Jong reveals an intense vulnerability, where the greatest obstacle was “realizing that certain friends and family felt uncomfortable sharing this experience with me.” Referring to the images including her husband’s body, Jong says, “I’ve always been careful not to violate the fine line of trust between us. It was the most conscious I’ve ever been.”