2017

Carmen Winant

 

Before giving birth, I had dreams that I had no bones in my body; I had dreams that my child was boneless. I dreamt of stacking warm babies into piles, racing to get the balance just right before I lost total daylight. I dreamt of earthquakes, which is, incidentally, exactly what birth is like: the material world momentarily shudders and opens wide to unknown and possibly devastating effect. Writing about birth is impossible because it has been determined too sentimental by a culture that undervalues female experience, and also because it is impossible to transmute a feeling so large into art. What if I tried to find a new vocabulary for it? What if I piled up mothers, unseen, under moonlight? What if I removed all of the bones from the picture? How can I put it: tenderness and resentment took turns eclipsing one another to near totality. Time passed vertically rather than horizontally, no longer broken up between day and night, but minutes and eternities. The body -- my body! -- once intact, came undone and labored its pieces back together in a new configuration. I am two months away from giving birth for the second time in three years, and I trust that pictures will both guide and fail me.

Bio
Carmen Winant is an artist and writer. Her work will be featured in Being: New Photography 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art; My Birth, an artist book with SPBH Editions, will be published concurrently. carmenwinant.com

Susan Lipper

 

Grapevine
The series takes its name from Grapevine Branch, West Virginia, a small community where Lipper took up intermittent residency for four years. In time she became an inside member of this closed community and developed intimate relationships with the residents, whom she interviewed and photographed with a medium-format camera. Although Lipper’s images seem to be constructed within the established vocabulary of documentary photography, she broke from this tradition by granting her sitters the theatrical license to perform as actors—as versions of themselves that may or may not have been true. After developing her prints, Lipper reviewed them with her sitters so they could refine or alter their poses. The resulting collaborative process paradoxically fulfills a traditional documentary function by throwing the gender and class roles enacted in small-town America into greater relief and asking viewers to recall the images of rural American communities we hold in our collective visual memory. In Lipper’s photographs, each role, whether inhabited or performed, reveals itself to be artifice or fantasy as much as a means of personal expression. In this way, Grapevine enacts a double manifestation of self, picturing both Lipper’s own psychic imagination—her creation and exploration of a fictional eden removed from the reach of empty consumerism—and her subjects’ keen self-awareness of in their posturing.

All images courtesy of the Artist and Higher Pictures

Bio
Susan Lipper is a New York based artist. She received her MFA from Yale University in 1983. Among the monographs on her work are Bed and Breakfast, 2000; trip, 1999; and GRAPEVINE, 1994. Lipper is represented, amongst other places, in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and most recently the 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship. susanlipper.com

Ilona Szwarc

 

"I am a woman and I feast on memory."
Ilona Szwarc is dissecting the process of becoming: how an individual assimilates and makes oneself imperceptible in society while engaging a series of internal and external transformations.

Each part of the triptych, consisting of 23 sequential portraits, takes the form of stage makeup tutorials. By employing look-alikes, women who share her general appearance, the artist is placing herself at once as the subject and the object in the photographs. In this step-by-step process she is manipulating her own image through a proxy: her American doppelganger.

These carefully staged photographs confuse the relationship between a portrait or a self-portrait. Szwarc is directing a compelling narrative, in which through cinematic closeups of her painting and drawing on the model’s face, she first creates an uncanny portrait of an aged woman, then through abstract and colorful mark-making she transforms her into a large woman. The series culminates with an androgynous, grotesque, saintly mask, a contemporary Vera Icon of her doppelganger.

Bio
Ilona Szwarc (American and Polish) is a photographer based in Los Angeles, California.

Szwarc received an MFA in Photography from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and a BFA from School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has had solo exhibitions at Foley Gallery in New York City, Claude Samuel in Paris, France, Amerika Haus in Munich, Germany, Leica Gallery in Warsaw, Poland and Maison de la Photographie in Lille, France. Her work has been shown in group shows internationally and most recently at Regen Projects in Los Angeles, Danziger Gallery in New York and at the International Festival for Photography and Fashion in Hyeres, France.

Szwarc has been awarded Richard Benson Prize for Excellence in Photography (2015), Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture (2014), World Press Photo (2013) and most recently chosen as FOAM Talent. ilonaszwarc.com

Carrie Mae Weems

 

Kitchen Table Series
This body of work was inspired in part by the influential essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975) by the critic Laura Mulvey, which addressed the lack of nonobjectified representations of women in film and other cultural expressions.  Like Family Pictures and Stories, the series offers a valid portrait of an often overlooked subject, in this case, a modern black woman, “the other of the other.”  The images trace a period in the woman’s life as she experiences the blossoming, then loss, of love, the responsibilities of motherhood, and the desire to be an engaged and contributing member of her community.  The protagonist is Weems herself – a practice that will continue throughout the next decades of her career.  The role of words has become more prominent with fourteen stand-alone text panels that relay the at times rocky narrative.  Near the end, the woman stands alone, strong and self-reliant, looking directly at the viewer, her arms squarely planted on her kitchen table, where the entire story has unfolded under a light of interrogation.  Although Kitchen Table Series depicts a black subject and is loosely related to her own experiences, Weems strives for it to reflect the experiences of Everywoman and to resonate across racial and class boundaries.

All images ©Carrie Mae Weems.  Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Bio
Considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, Carrie Mae Weems has investigated yearning, loss, cultural identity, and the visual consequences of power throughout her world-renowned career.  Determined as ever to enter the picture—both literally and metaphorically—Weems has sustained an on-going dialogue within contemporary discourse for more than twenty-five years.  carriemaeweems.net

Whitney Hubbs

 

Body Doubles
Looking at pictures of women, as seen pulled back toward my eye, I see myself withthem. I can’t help it. I parse their bodies, the forms. Not my own and yet familiar.

When I’m in front of the camera, my body is being looked at, is being performed, is being directed and recorded. It is being taken apart and pieced back together.

We repeat and repeat, the same scene, against the same wall, with the same lights. We write the body on a piece of film. Film that’s been pushed and prodded, mishandled and flipped. At a certain point I had to accept a bodily experience. It was pleasurable to look at their rough unpolished states, the bodies simply are: flipping, posing, being coy, arms as arrows, feet as poles, the lens as lover and mirror, the lens always looking back and being looked at, not by the face, but by the breasts, buttocks, heels, toes, shins, spines and throats, unhurried and happy to give that which can’t be taken.

Bio
Whitney Hubbs (b. 1977, Los Angeles) received her BFA from California College of the Arts and her MFA from UCLA. She is represented by M+B Gallery.  whitneyhubbs.com