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Face Contact: the Large Collective PHE11 Exhibition Opens at Fernán Gómez Theater
Lauren Olney & Richard Lawrence, Beautiful Agony (Still), 2004-actual. Courtesy:

MADRID.- This morning Teatro Fernán Gómez. Centro de Arte/Fundación Banco Santander and PHotoEspaña have presented Face Contact, the flagship of the thematic selection. The exhibition gathers the work of 31 artists who have worked on portraiture and the portrait as an element of identification and communication, from the mid 1960s to the present day.The exhibition is organized by Fundación Banco Santander y PHotoEspaña in Collaboration with Área de las Artes del Ayuntamiento de Madrid.

Face Contact offers a broad and yet potent vision of the theme of PHE11: Interfaces: Portrait and Communication. Through the work of 31 artists – among them Hans-Peter Feldmann, Shilpa Gupta, Mona Hatoum, Cristina Lucas, Liliana Porter, Jorge Ribalta, and Dayanita Singh – the series strives to address the notion of the portrait, but without constructing any totalizing thesis and seeking instead to have the works speak and interact amongst themselves.

The title of the exhibition makes reference to the English expression eye contact, visual contact made between two people who look each other in the eye, and it alludes to the function of the portrait as a means of communication. No other part of the body is capable of expressing in such a clear way emotions, moods, desires, or requests. Photography captures and represents that communication particularly well, which is one of the reasons for the profusion of the portrait in contemporary life. The photograph presents the face in order to articulate the message that it seeks to transmit, and the photographer constructs meanings that go beyond the photographed visage, making use of the image as a sign by which to generate meaning as part of an artistic discourse.

The works – all recent, between 1966 and the present – are put in face contact among themselves, with the intention of probing the complexities, inventiveness, discourses, and imaginaries of contemporary portraiture. The face is thus posited as a zone of interaction, exploring the limits and tensions of this communication.

Face Contact alludes to the portrait as communication, to the exteriority of the face portrayed which seeks to connect with the viewer's face in pursuit of a transaction of exchanged meanings: the receiver processes the information articulated in the portrait and at the same time returns the gaze, projecting his or her own personal decodification onto the face portrayed.

The artists
The intention in Face Contact is to release art from encyclopedic conventions. Eclectic and dynamic, the curator Gerardo Mosquera has established a polyphony of cross discourses with a personal view, without claiming objectivity but by building an open visual discourse through the exhibition of thirty-one artists or groups: Liliana Angulo, Ananké Asseff, (Lauren Olney & Richard Lawrence), Jorge Brantmayer, Nancy Burson, Louis Camnitzer, Jeanette Chávez, MR Collective, LucFosther Diop, Eugenio Dittborn, Juan Downey, Hans-Peter Feldman, Jérôme Fortin, Shadi Ghadirian, Simryn Gill Shilpa Gupta, Mona Hatoum, Jose Iraola, Pedro Lemebel, Jarbas Lopes, Cristina Lucas, Dulce Pinzón, Liliana Porter, Libia Posada, Jorge Ribalta, Yoani Sánchez, Stephanie Sinclair, Dayanita Singh, Marta Soul, Kan Xuan and Remy Zaugg.

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