ZONE: Chelsea Center for the Arts is proud to present FACE: Scavenging Identity, exploring the margins of mainstream portrait genre.
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 structures뾬nce defined by nationality, class and gender뾥ave 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.
Others emphasize 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 Cal,
Rainer Judd, Kirsten Justesen, Mark Mann, Renaud Muraire, Osvaldo Romberg,
Burton Silverman, Jean-Manuel Simoes and Valentin Stefanoff & Nina Kovacheva