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When photojournalist Peter Menzel comes into your town, you know at least one family will be doing a thorough spring cleaning. Menzel is the editor of Material World--A Global Family Portrait, a collection of photographs featuring families posing outside their homes, surrounded by all their possessions. To honor the United Nations-sponsored "International Year of the Family" in 1994, Menzel assembled 16 of the world's leading photographers to create portraits of life in 30 different nations. Photographers spent one week with a "statistically average" family in each country, learning about their lives, then posed them outside for a "big picture," surrounded by their many, or few, material goods. In one photo, a British family prepares to take tea and biscuits, under a cloudy sky. In another, wary Bosnians sit beside mattresses used as sniper shields. (A Russian family poses above.) "I thought the world needed a reality check," says Menzel in the book's afterword. A selection of these photographs, in an exhibit called Material World: What We Have, What We Have in Common, will be shown at Raleigh's Exploris, from March 3-Sept. 9. Call 857-1085 for details.


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