PUBLIC HOTEL, BY IAN SCHRAGER
THE NIGHT YOU LEFT
TOWNHOUSE, GREENWICH VILLAGE
SOHO HOUSE/ LUDLOW HOUSE
FEMALE ARTISTS, SOCIAL CHANGE
ALL TOO HUMAN
Presenting The Skin We Are In, curated by Emie Diamond and Anne Huntington, exhibited in Times Square.
“And may we all have the freedom
to live without fear
in the skin we are in”
- Cleo Wade
As humans we seek to protect or conceal ourselves behind the darkness of a veil, a mask. We are inclined to gain value by adding layers, rather than removing them to reveal substance.
For those who wish to explore the masked self, such as the artists featured in this show, they must destroy in order to create, purge in order to expose, delve inwards in order to reveal a greater truth. Every layer of their work is essential to the narrative, accounting for what is visible, hidden, disguised, and manipulated. The artists withhold while simultaneously revealing hints of self.
The rawness of self is often times a sobering reality, yet ironically mirrors the world in which we live. Historically artists have challenged and questioned their realities through autobiographical work, but no time is more profound to explore such complexities then now, for technology has handed a mask to all of society.
Technology provides platforms for people to create an image of themselves, yet do we see each other more clearly? Technology gives us the resources to learn about others from diverse backgrounds, yet are we more cultured? Technology enables us with the tools to communicate more seamlessly, yet do we hear each other better? Does more data and connectivity result in greater enlightenment?
The artists featured in this show utilize vastly different mediums, yet their works reflect on the profound dualities of the masked self and what it reveals about greater society.
Brendan Fernandes’ work draws on his own migration from Kenya, Africa to Canada. His neon work is based on a mask of unknown identity within the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s African collection and is extracted from a larger installation named From Hiz Hands. The artist assembles works that create a shared history of identity, origin and displacement.
Pryce Lee, from the UK, manipulates and destroys unlikely mediums, in order to examine the complicated relationships between beauty, violence, life and death. Even his name toys at the complexity of identity – if he works from a pseudonym, or if his name is Pryce.
Shantell Martin, also from the UK, explores racial identity through her chosen medium, as indicated from her statement “I am an artist who is black and white, working mostly in black and white.” She questions the origins of humanity, captures a particular point of view and then utilizes a mediation of lines and a language of characters to create conversations.
Andrea Mary Marshall, from the USA, pushes the identities of her created subjects, as portrayed through portraiture style photography. While her work is not explicitly self-portraiture, she demonstrates self-reflection in her works alluding to past, present and future. Her work plays on commercialism, consumerism, beauty, reflecting on the dichotomy born out of a pursuit of the ideal.
Kristin McIver is an Australian artist who examines personal identity and its relationship to social media, and how the participants of digital consumer culture become both the subject and object of the production cycle. She sampled the text featured in her Love Piece from social media comments and reviews regarding her prior artworks. Her Typecast series use conventions of screenwriting and the structures of cinema to describe the posture of selfie sitters found on the internet. The texts become a set of performative instructions.
Cleo Wade, from the USA, is a poet driven to create inspiring messages blending simplicity, positivity and honesty. She is a dedicated advocate of female empowerment and believes art is for all people, often creating large-scale public art pieces.
In conclusion, the darkness of a veil conceals and obscures, generating a preponderance of inauthentic realities. Therefore, it is only once such proverbial layers are removed, that the rawness of self is revealed and a greater truth emerges. Through various mediums and techniques, these highlighted artists fearlessly delve deep, presenting a mirror into their own realities, and ultimately a reflection on the world in which they live.