Multiply, Identify, Her

23 May–2 September 2018

Exhibition Overview

Mickalene Thomas, Angelitos Negros

This exhibition features an intergenerational group of women artists whose work explores representations of identity. Working in photography, video, and film, through assemblage, collage, multipart portraiture, and the use of avatars both analogue and digital, these artists reckon with the complex and changeable elements that inform who we are. These selves emerge from intersecting confrontations: with the artist’s own image, with the weight of personal and social stereotypes of race, class, gender, and age, and with the ambivalent promises of technology. These hybrid and multiple selves are depicted through mirroring and cloning, repetition and transfiguration.

Made between the late 1990s and today, the work on view has roots in feminist art historical discussions of the ways artists have visualized selfhood as manifold, presenting portraits that in their multiplicity and radicality challenge patriarchal ways of looking that define narrowly while presuming broadly. Featuring work ranging from cut-photograph collage to an exploration of life-extending artificial intelligence, the exhibition considers our enduring impulse to push against the limits of the discrete human body—from stretching the boundaries of representation to anticipating a future in which our consciousness is not bound to a physical body at all.

Transcending the singular, unified self is a psychological and political aspiration—to appear in all the disparate ways that we are—as well as a future, technology-enabled reality. The artists brought together here create a space in which the feeling of longing for other possibilities of being and being seen is made palpable.

(Photo: Mickalene Thomas, Angelitos Negros (detail), 2016. © Mickalene Thomas, Courtesy the artist and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

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