Artist Statement

Each morning, our eyes, like curtains, open to an endless stream of people, objects, animals, and landscapes. How can we try to make sense of the fleeting worlds of perception and experience? Holding up a mirror, we discover we are all reflections of each other.A camera is a dynamic portal for heightened engagement with the world. Theatre of the Everyday is a call to imbue photography with its real power; careful observation, crossing boundaries, attention to elusive matters of perception, memory, and the wavering borderline between art and life.”

Marianne Bernstein, a longtime artist and curator living and working in Chicago and Paris, is known for collaborative, boundary-crossing work. Theatre of the Everyday, published in 2024, is an artist’s book of photographs spanning 40 years exploring the poetics of everyday life. Her first monograph, Tatted was published in 2009, documenting Philadelphia’s renowned tattoo culture. Other projects include Shelter, The Philadelphia Underground, Nomadicube, and a quartet of volcanic island explorations: Due North (Iceland), Due South (Sicily), Due East (Taiwan), and Due West (TBD). She also founded the untitled(space) gallery and co-founded City-Wide Open Studios which merged into ArtSpace New Haven. With early support from the Andy Warhol Foundation, their award-winning programming transformed the city’s cultural scene from the ’90s till the 2020s.

About the Book

Theatre of the Everyday

Publication Date: 1 March 2024Theatre of the Everyday is an artist’s book of photographs by Marianne Bernstein spanning 40 years exploring the poetics of everyday life.Divided into three main chapters: “Ensemble”, “Trouble in Paradise”, and “Denouement”, each chapter also has a sub-chapter: “Notes”, “Intermission”, and “Finale”.“Ensemble” begins with portraits. “Trouble in Paradise” widens our view into Bernstein's travels and projects and “Denouement” expands her explorations into open spaces. The book reflects upon the significance and interconnection of all things, and the passing of time.The book was designed by Domenico Liberti and Cristiano Bottino of Studio FM Milano, a Milan-based graphic design studio with a recognized international reputation. Recent awards include European Design Awards, 2023 Luxembourg, among many others.Gregory Volk, a well-known New York-based art writer and curator, who has written regularly for Hyperallergic and Art in America wrote the Introduction and calls the book “remarkable”.Additional text includes essays by Kelsey Halliday Johnson, Executive Director of SPACE gallery in Portland, Maine; and Stan Mir, a writer in Philadelphia, PA whose art and poetry reviews have appeared in Hyperallergic, photography, and Jacket2. The final essay was written by Raimondo Cortese, Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Faculty Member of Fine Arts and Music at the Victorian College for the Arts, University of Melbourne.

Edition Notes

Copyright © 2024 Marianne Bernstein

No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the photographer.First edition of 200 / Numbered & signed
Printed in Milan, Italy
ISBN: 9-79-8-218-3231-3


Photos Marianne BernsteinTexts
Gregory Volk
Kelsey Halliday Johnson
Stan Mir
Raimondo Cortese
Marianne Bernstein
Graphic Design and Creative Direction studio FM milano
Printing Grafiche Antiga
Website Dimitry Saïd Chamy / 2urn
Saol Display
Helvetica Neue
208 pages, silkscreened three-fold soft cover
Dimensions: 240mm × 357mm × 18mm
Weight: 1.42kg (50oz)


This Book Dedicated To

My husband, Bob
And our children, Ben and Jake
Who teach me about love every day

Special Thanks To

Domenico and Cristiano from studio FM milano, brilliant designers and passionate collaboratorsCindi, my dearest friendMy sisters Celia, Nancy, Susan, Liz, and brother Josh, and my parents who recently passed awaySara, Elle, and AlmaGregory, Kelsey, Stan, and Raimondo, for their beautiful essaysDimitry for this website and wise counsel, a renewal of long-time collaborationAnd to everyone else who by fate or chance, continue to play a part in the ensemble of my life.


From the Introduction:

The captivating photographs in Marianne Bernstein’s Theatre of the Everyday, taken over forty years in far-flung locations, often during the artist’s socially and politically engaged art and film projects, are wonderfully eclectic: a sweat-stained silk sofa in Palermo, the soles of Bernstein’s father’s shoes shortly after he died, a tatted up stranger in Philadelphia, a pig’s heart hanging in an outdoor market in Taiwan, an abandoned church in Chicago inscribed with graffiti, a person hidden behind a curtain with just their shoes visible, among many others…People abound in Bernstein’s book, often total strangers, sometimes close family members; the book chronicles years of openness to and empathy for others. Her alert, soulful encounters with the non-human world are an invigorating conclusion to this remarkable book.”

Gregory Volk, New York-based art writer, educator, and curator. He writes regularly for Hyperallergic and has contributed to many other publications including Art in America and The Brooklyn Rail, as well as to numerous catalogues and books.

From “Ensemble”:

If contemporary society is indeed marked by an era of isolation, Bernstein’s modus operandi has been to dismantle the walls that begin to build between ourselves and others. Her projects have pushed city residents into seeing the potential of vacant land in plain view, understand the breadth of the talent all around us, and demystify the ways artists live and work. Through inventive visual and social methods, Bernstein’s work has embarked upon what Rebecca Solnit has called for amidst the climate crisis: ‘To win the popular imagination, we need new methods of storytelling.’ And yet the underlying heartbeat of these many years of work has been a return to the camera and the potential for connection and understanding through the photograph.”

Kelsey Halliday Johnson is a writer and artist. She works as the Executive Director of the multi-disciplinary visual and performing art organization SPACE in Portland, Maine.

From “Trouble in Paradise”:

In an unpublished prose piece Bernstein sent to me while working on this essay, she arrives at this formulation: ‘What if paradise is not a place, but the radical acceptance of ourselves. No yearning for a Messiah, or a future Day of Judgement, no longing for perfection. Perhaps the trouble with paradise is a refusal to make peace with trouble’.Bernstein’s photographs resist imagining a promised land for its own sake. And now it’s our job to imagine how to live in this world.”

Stan Mir is a writer in Philadelphia. His art and poetry reviews have appeared in Hyperallergic, photograph, and Jacket2. Since 2006, he has taught writing and literature at Temple University.

From “Denouement”:

Marianne’s images create a realness in totality, a fragile, dynamic space that suggests the existence of something imperceptible. This is a form of theatre of the everyday, which once engaged through viewing, ‘leads beyond presentness, towards an elsewhere’. Bernstein’s photos allow time and space to shift and distort, creating a hyperreal plane where for a moment, we become what we are looking at.”

Raimondo Cortese Senior Lecturer Theatre, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, Victorian College for the Arts, University of Melbourne.



  • Wine, Cheese, Art & Conversation 7PM Tuesday 4 June 2024 — Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore, 9 Rue de Médicis, Paris 75006 An evening at the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore with Marianne Bernstein, Tenaya Darlington, and Lindsey Tramuta. Three friends from Philadelphia, now in Paris, discuss and sign their recent publications.

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