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Subjectivity: Photography of Themselves

Arizona State University Art Museum
at the Nelson Fine Arts Center
September 21, 2002 through January 5, 2003

Anthony Goicolea, "Blizzard," 2001. Laminated incorporated color coupler print on sintra, AP 1/6, 40 x 42 inches. Collection of Stéphane Janssen.

Anthony Goicolea, "Blizzard," 2001. Laminated incorporated color coupler print on sintra, AP 1/6, 40 x 42 inches. Collection of Stéphane Janssen.

Overview

The Arizona State University Art Museum is touring an exhibition of 30 works by seven contemporary photo- graphers all of whom use themselves as their models. Subjectivity brings together various cultural views of the self, combining two great art traditions – that of the nude and that of the self-portrait. The work engages postmodern notions of the body that question aspects of gender and species identity. As both the photographer and the subject of the photograph, each of these artists expands the idea of self-portrait to explore the definition of the self. The face and the body are shaped, costumed and multiplied, creating a theater of identity or a new way to perceive the human form. 

About the Artists

Zhang Huan (China) incorporates performance intrinsically in his art. His photographs are, in fact, images of his performance art, whether that involves using nude bodies To Raise the Water Level in a Fish Pond, or To Add One Meter to an Unknown Mountain. The images capture the Chinese emphasis on group problem-solving, even at its absurd extremes.

Zhao Bandi (China) is actor, director and producer in work with a strong performative element, playing a variety of roles with a toy panda in humorous pieces that often parody public service announcements while sincerely conveying his message. 

Like Bandi, Anthony Goicolea (born in Atlanta, works in New York) reflects the role of film director. Goicolea costumes himself to create an identity and an image. Unlike the other artists in this exhibition, however, he often creates a complex narrative in which he plays multiple figures interacting in a single incident. Many of his images suggest dreams or memories of a darker side of childhood. 

Yasumasa Morimura (Japan) meticulously constructs costume, setting and makeup to recreate himself as cultural icons, both male and female. Among those whose identity he recreates is artist Frida Kahlo, wife of Diego Rivera.

Cindy Sherman (born in New Jersey, lives in New York) explores the icons of our culture, dressing and posing as various heroines from the golden age of Hollywood, opera and art history. Questions of gender identity arise in another image, as Sherman’s face becomes male, complete with moustache.

Bob Carey (born in Arizona, lives in New York) shapes his own body and face to create a new and unique species. He explores the human face and smile in one piece, turns his body into a machine in another, and uses light to eradicate parts of himself in still another image. Light is also used to great effect in an image where he floats seemingly weightlessly in a tutu – a poignant, dying swan.

Arno Rafael Minkinnen (born in Finland, lives in Massachusetts) differs from the other artists in this exhibition in that he uses his body to create an organic architecture. His is the most abstract vocabulary of those in the exhibition. His long limbs function as architectural beams to form bridges or arches, blending with the forms with which he poses.

Curator

Marilyn A. Zeitlin
Director/Chief Curator 
ASU Art Museum

Exhibition Information 

The Subjectivity exhibition includes:

  • Approx. 40 works, some in series, framed
  • 50 color catalogues
  • Interpretive text panels and object labels

Rental Fee: $3,800 + shipping 
Insurance: provided by venue
Availability: June 2004
Security: Moderate
Space requirements: : Approx. 2,200 square feet
Catalog: 40 pages, 20 color pages and essay by Marilyn A. Zeitlin, Director/Chief Curator, ASU Art Museum. Director/Chief Curator, ASU Art Museum.