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Framed: Identity and the Photographic Portrait
Caleb Cole, Myra Greene, Lorenzo Triburgo
September 3 – October 12, 2013
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 12, 2013, 6:30-8pm
PRC Gallery, 832 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA
Lorenzo Triburgo, Ocean Breeze (Seven), from the series Transportraits, 2009/2013.
© Lorenzo Triburgo, 2009.
“In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art.”
--Critic Roland Barthes on “the portrait-photograph,” 1980
Portraiture has been a part of photographic representation as early the announcement of photography’s invention in the 1830s. With the rise of the profession of photography and establishment of portrait studios by John Plumbe and Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Hawes (known as “Southworth and Hawes”) in the 1840s, Boston, in particular, distinguished itself as a leader in the field of studio portraiture. Though not limited to artists practicing in Boston, Framed returns to the popular subject of portraiture and features contemporary photographic portraits.
Portraiture has developed rapidly and significantly in the past seventy years. Even in the past thirty years, since Roland Barthes’ statement, it has transformed dramatically. As a means of exploring issues of identity, contemporary artists have been using photography to examine aspects of themselves and others. In the age of the Internet, avatars, online personalities and profiles, as well as obsessive online documentation of one’s activities and characteristics, identity has become more fluid, pluralistic, multifaceted, detailed and yet, at times, illusive and elusive. The artists featured in Framed rely on photography’s promise to present “truth” or “reality” to explore, reveal and conceal aspects of the complex subject of identity. In some cases, the artists rely on photography’s promise to present “reality” to create and authenticate fictitious identities or role-playing. In other cases, the artists use themselves or others to reveal and interrogate aspects of identity. Framed is not an exhaustive exhibition on identity, but rather showcases three fresh and ambitious approaches to portraiture. Overall, the artists in this exhibition challenge our beliefs and assumptions about identity and the photographic portrait.
In his cinematic and tableaux-style self-portraits for the series Other People’s Clothes, Caleb Cole assumes the identities of other people through the use of costumes, props, and staging. Strangely familiar to us, the characters in his photographs are both types and people we feel we intimately know.
Photographing her friends, artist Myra Greene shifts from explorations of her own identity as an African American to the examination of the under-considered and less-scrutinized issues of whiteness and white identity in her series My White Friends.
For Transportraits, Lorenzo Triburgo photographs transgender men, whom he poses before the backdrop of a landscape, which he has painted himself. Recalling art historical traditions of portraiture and popular photography, Triburgo gives further visibility to the transgender community while interrogating the fixed nature of gender identity.
Curated by Francine Weiss, Ph.D.
The PRC’s 2013 exhibition program is supported by a generous grant from the Lois and Richard England Family Foundation.