Equity Gallery (NYC) recently announced “It Could Be You: Portraiture in a Constructed World,” a comprehensive group exhibition of contemporary portraiture juried by Hyeseung Marriage-Song, Beverly McNeil, and Patricia Watwood. The show features more than 30 international multidisciplinary artists whose artwork explores both the purpose and limits of portraiture, identity, and the self in the modern digital age.
More from the gallery:
Somewhere between the introduction of cheap camcorders and the proliferation of smart phones we became distrustful of our body’s ability to mediate directly with the physical world. To a large extent we have exchanged the sensual perceptions emanating from our surroundings for simulated experiences that mitigate reality through camera lenses and digitalized imagery. Once understood to be aide-mémoirs of life’s lived experiences, the media is reality—a reality comprising instantly shareable content validated or refuted by social media emojis.
That’s a risky way to construct one’s universe. How can we hope to fix an identity, let alone one informed by ethical principles, on a mutating digital stage that is subject to the whims of marketing algorithms and bots on a mission? Given present conditions, it’s no wonder that our instinct to ascertain “what’s real” has devolved into an addicting stalk for pleasure hits that never quite satiate an appetite weaned on spectacle.
That said, can we stake out what is abiding, true, and stable about us and our fellows? In an increasingly alarming and chaotic era, art that depicts what is actually there and recognizable is defiant — and nothing could be more necessary and reassuring at the moment than simply showing what we actually look like (and mean) to each other.
“It Could Be You: Portraiture in a Constructed World” is showing at Portraits, Inc. in Birmingham, AL, through February 20, 2020.