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Three series of photographic works by Laura Menz on view at AndrewShire Gallery
Laura Menz, T 2011. 45 x 55 in, Archival Pigment Print, float up frame, deckled edge. Acrylic face, aluminum metal frame. Ed. 1/5.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Laura Menz is a photographer who, as a professional model, has been extensively photographed. Partly as a result, Menz’s photographs seek to understand and even construct the self. Who – or even what – am I, asks Menz in her photographs. And, as photographic collages, made as much outside the camera as in, Menz’s images ask the same about themselves.

In Synthetic Minds, opening January 12th at AndrewShire Gallery, Menz shows three series of photographic works, “Androids,” “Three Acts,” and “Kopfgeburten.” In his essay for the exhibition catalogue, Peter Frank writes that these three series “regard the self from different angles, and in doing so wonder openly what comprises the self, what defines it, what it wants to be and what it is forced to be.”

In the “Androids” series, as Frank notes, the artist presents the self stripped bare, devoid of clothing, bodily enhancement, or, even hair, reduced to a corpus. Looking closer at these oddly transformed bodies (which, of course, are all one and the same body), we realize that they are vitalized by some sort of energy radiating through them, causing them to vibrate even as they sit stock still. This is the “self as un-still life.”

In Menz’s “Three Acts” series, the self takes advantage of its bodied form to express itself through movement. Menz casts herself here as all Three Graces, going well beyond the ancient trichotomy of Faith, Hope, and Charity. What is consistent among these relationships is their implied dialectic, the inference that the ideational opposition of two of the figures resolves in the third. In the end, all of Menz’s works demonstrate that the “self,” something every one of us has and yet none of us can thoroughly describe, is forever under construction.

In the “Kopfgeburten” series (a German term, “head births,” meaning mental inventions), Menz moves from body to head, locating the self in the mind, and revealing the mind as a battleground for competing exterior forces. How successfully does the mind resist these invaders? How successfully does it absorb and incorporate them? Where, and how, do we distinguish ourselves from the outside self, and from the myriad forces that we pass through and that pass through us?

The exhibition demonstrates that, as humans, we need various identities and many personas, some real and some impossible, in order to comprehend ourselves fully. In doing so, Menz’s work exposes some of her—and thus our own—infinite possible selves.

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