ZONE: Chelsea Center for the Arts is proud to present
FACE: Scavenging Identity, exploring the margins of mainstream portrait
Traditional portraiture is a mix of realism and artifice, public
persona and private life, interior and exterior. It entails subtle negotiations between
artist and model, even when the two are nominally the same. The international artists in this
compact but wide-ranging exhibition take a more unorthodox approach, but they
retain the perennial fascination with human nature. They challenge the conventions of the
genre using a variety of mediums, including painting, collage, sculpture,
photography and video. Today,
traditional social structures—once defined by nationality, class and
gender—have necessarily given way to more individual and improvisational ways
of constructing identity.
Much of the work
uncovers layers of meaning by focusing on human skin, from the distended
belly of a pregnant woman to the leathery remains of a fetish-draped corpse.
Some of the artists explore the physical limits of the body with close-ups so
extreme that skin and hair become features in alien landscapes, or present
parasitic forms that threaten our autonomy.
theatricality and the rituals of self-presentation, whether in Africa or American subcultures. Some create oneiric
installations or provide space for the unleashing of raw emotion and the
temporary disarrangement of the public face. They appropriate magazines for
pictorial journals that blur the line between autobiography and image-making,
or old master images to break them down into color charts. This juxtaposition of works by both
established and emerging artists creates an exciting matrix for fresh
perspectives on visual anthropology.
Artists are: Silvana Agostoni, Steven Assael, Monique Baumann, Santiago
Rainer Judd, Kirsten Justesen,
Mark Mann, Renaud Muraire,
Burton Silverman, Jean-Manuel Simoes
and Valentin Stefanoff
& Nina Kovacheva.