Concerns about identity have risen to the forefront, as more and more people worry about privacy in the age of the Internet. Additionally, more and more people are constricted by racial and sexual classifications that no longer accommodate an evolving society. Labels such as gay, straight, bi-sexual, transgendered, white, black, African-American, Latino, Hispanic, Asian, tall, short, thin, fat, Jewish, Catholic, Atheist, are used to define us, often found on census forms, marriage licenses and medical records. Our own government issues us social security numbers through which our identity is codified. In today’s age of gender equality, multi-racial families, and increasing security breaches, more and more artists are looking at issues of identity and classification. Identify brings together five artist whose works address these current concerns.
A 19th c. photograph by Felix Nadar of a young woman’s back and her hair, inspired Tara Bogart’s modern hair study. This simple depiction of womanhood, as seen from behind and shirtless, allows viewers to create stories about each person based on hairstyle, shape, and body marks. Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates 3D resin portraits from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. Working with traces strangers unwittingly leave behind (gum, cigarette butt, hair), Dewey-Hagborg extracts DNA to create genetic profiles that are then put through a facial algorithm. The end result are portraits that speak to today’s culture of biological surveillance and has proved prophetic, as forensic science moves towards genetic profiling. Jess T. Dugan explores the power of identity, desire, queer experience, masculinity and connection through portraits of herself and others. Her work explores the nuances of sexual identification, challenging the viewers’ biases and need for categorization. Michael Itkoff sources instructional booklets from the early-to-mid 20th c. on Karate, Yoga, Aerobics and other physical activities that are rooted in the Western ideal of body perfection. Presented as short GIF-like videos, his pieces capture the idealized figure flexing, dancing, stretching and gyrating, all in the name of perfection. Collaborators Garth & Pierre create installations from scanned cutout snapshots of male faces that are mounted to bank pins, placed directly into the wall. The work references the historic use of photographs for scientific categorization and identification, and invites the viewer to think about gender, and the traits that make us unique.
Each artist brings a unique perspective to the subject matter, reflecting his or her own individuality and identity.
Tara Bogart is an artist residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As a teenager she began ‘working’ in her Mother’s darkroom and has nurtured a lifelong passion for photography.
Bogart’s work has been exhibited nationally and published internationally. She was also selected for Review Santa Fe 100 2012, Collect.Give , and she was “selected” for American Photography 29 publication in 2013. She has participated in exhibitions juried by Todd Hido (Rayko Gallery, San Francisco), Catherine Edelman and Brian Ulrich.
a modern hair study In 2011, I visited the photo archives of the National Library of France. While everything was inspirational, one photograph haunted me for months following my visit. “Hair Study”, by Felix Nadar depicts just a womanʼs back and her hair. I could not stop thinking about what that same image would look like today.
“a modern hair study” consists of portraits of young women photographed from behind. By focusing on the back, the viewer is forced to contend with all of the peripheral things that make each woman unique.
In these intimate portraits I am a voyeur concentrating on a generation that is not mine. While certain ideals are often relevant to different generations, the ways in which women adorn and modify themselves often indicate the struggles of a young adult with their own ideology and individuality.
After photographing these women, I can imagine these struggles are timeless. Existing today as well as when the original Nadar portrait was taken.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a transdisciplinary artist and educator who is interested in art as research and critical practice. Heather has shown work internationally at events and venues including the New York Public Library, Ars Electronica in Linz, the Poland Mediations Bienniale, the Science Gallery Dublin, University of Technology Gallery in Sydney, Maison des Arts de Créteil in Paris, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam, Jaaga art and technology center in Bangalore, and the Monitor Digital Festival in Guadalajara. She has exhibited nationally at PS1 Moma, the New Museum, Eyebeam, Clocktower Gallery, 92Y Tribeca, Issue Project Room, and Splatterpool in New York City, Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey, and CEPA Gallery in Buffalo among many others. In addition to her individual work she has collaborated with the collective Future Archaeology, with video artist Adriana Varella and with artists Aurelia Moser, Allison Burtch, and Adam Harvey.
Her work has been featured in print in the New Yorker, New York Times, Arts Asia Pacific, Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, Newsweek, New Scientist, Il Sole 24 Ore, Science Magazine, Arts Asia Pacific, C Magazine, and on the cover of Government Technology, on television on CNN, Dan Rather Reports, the BBC World Services, and online in the New York Times Magazine, TED, the Guardian, Reuters, the New York Post, NPR, Wired, Smithsonian, Le Monde, Haaretz, The Creators Project, neural.it, Art Ukraine, Designboom, Capital New York, Artlog, Rhizome, Fast Company, The Verge, Motherboard, the Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Gizmodo and the Daily Beast, among many others.
Heather has received grants or residency awards from the University of Connecticut, Eyebeam, MOMA PS1, Clocktower Gallery, Jaaga, I-Park, Sculpture Space, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, CEPA Gallery, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. Heather has a BA in Information Arts from Bennington College and a Masters degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She is currently a PhD student in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Assistant Professor of Art and technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Stranger Visions In Stranger Visions, Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates 3D resin portraits from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. Working with traces strangers unwittingly leave behind (gum, cigarette butt, hair), Dewey-Hagborg extracts DNA to create genetic profiles that are then put through a facial algorithm. The end result are portraits that speak to today’s culture of biological surveillance. Designed as a critical project based on emerging science, Stranger Visions has proved prophetic, as forensic science moves towards genetic profiling.
Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and community. Jess earned a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago.
Jess’s work has been exhibited nationwide, including exhibitions at the San Diego Museum of Art, the Griffin Museum of Photography, Gallery Kayafas (Boston, MA), Carroll and Sons Gallery (Boston, MA), the Schneider Gallery (Chicago, IL), Michael Mazzeo Gallery (New York, NY), JDC Fine Art (San Diego, CA), the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery (Atlanta, GA), the Leslie/Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the RayKo Photo Center, and the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University.
Jess’s photographs are in the permanent collections of the Harvard Art Museum, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, the DePaul Art Museum, the Michele and Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Dugan's first monograph, Every breath we drew, will be published by Daylight Books in 2015.
Every breath we drew
Every breath we drew explores the power of identity, desire, and connection through portraits of myself and others. Working within the framework of queer experience and from my actively constructed sense of masculinity, my portraits examine the intersection between private, individual identity and the search for intimate connection with others. I photograph people in their homes, often in their bedrooms, using medium and large format cameras to create a deep, sustained engagement, resulting in an intimate and detailed portrait.
I combine formal portraits, images of couples, self-portraits, and photographs of my own romantic relationship to investigate broader themes of identity and connection while also speaking to my private, individual experience. The photographs of men and masculine individuals act as a kind of mirror; they depict the type of gentle masculinity I am attracted to, yet also the kind I want to embody. Similarly, the photographs of relationships speak to a drive to be seen, understood, desired through the eyes of a another person; a reflection of the self as the ultimate intimate connection.
By asking others to be vulnerable with me through the act of being photographed, I am laying claim to what I find beautiful and powerful while asking larger questions about how identity is formed, desire is expressed, and intimate connection is sought.
Garth Amundson & Pierre Gour met at the Banff Center of Fine Arts Residency in 1986, they have collaborated as a team in various degrees for the last twenty-nine years. Some bodies of work are literal collaborations, conceived, developed, and actualized side-by-side. At other times, they serve one another in a support role: one-person sewing panels together, applying photographic emulsion, or realizing the design and installation of the work. In either context, they are truly a collaborative team of artists who insist on continuing to produce challenging work that keeps them stimulated and provokes an audience response.
Their work explores the perceptions and politics surrounding the home and domestic sphere and identity politics. Using the technique of collage/montage and photo scanning to speak metaphorically about the social construction of identity, their installations invite the viewer to think about one’s own gender construction by psychologically projecting themselves into the images.
In each project they seek to explore and dissect identity using their own experience as a point of departure. For example, during Garth’s eight-month Fulbright in Mexico in 2007, their own sense of home was put into question. After being forcibly separated at the U.S. / Canada border, and after 22 years as a couple, they were faced with the prospect not having a home together. Underlying all of their work, are these recent experiences with immigration laws, which have threatened their sense of home. Although legally married in Canada, the US Federal Defense of Marriage Act barred same-sex couples from all federal benefits conferred by marriage, including the right to sponsor an immigrant spouse for permanent residence. Same sex bi-national couples were often forced to separate because the U.S. government viewed them as strangers under the law.
Appropriating vintage studio portraits as metaphors for different situations, provoking questions in the viewer's mind. Each print tells a distinct story alluding to hidden histories and how communities were created through a series of secret codes, unspoken language, and clandestine connections. Currently they are working on a body of work for exhibition in South Korea, in the spring of 2013.
Garth holds an MFA from Syracuse University and Pierre from the University of New Mexico. Both are founding members of Shift Collaborative Studio in Seattle, WA. They both teach in the Department of Art at Western Washington University.
HEAD(s) This installation is a by-product of both Cut-It-Out and Penetrating Cuts, which are scanned images of thousands of photographs and snapshots, both vintage and contemporary. In this project, we have selected to use the cut-out male faces to mount with two-inch bank pins directly into the wall. The display references the historic use photographs for scientific categorization and identification. In this context, we are reflecting on our own social construction and the fluidity of masculinity and how it is presented through portraiture.
Michael Itkoff is an artist, Cofounder of Daylight Books, and an Associate Professor at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
How To For the series of 'How To' video pieces I have sourced instructional booklets from the early-to-mid 20th century including books on Karate, Yoga, Aerobics and other physical activities. These texts are rooted in the Western ideal of bodily perfection and culminate within late-capitalism where individuals can fine-tune their abilities, and thereby their identities, via easily consumable books or YouTube videos. The short GIF-like loops that comprise 'How To' are made by scanning, editing and sequencing the crude black and white photographs that illustrate the books and the resulting videos are exhibited on custom-built display units.
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