NEW YORK, NY.- Aperture Foundation
, a leading New York based arts institution dedicated to promoting photography in all its forms, and School of Visual Arts, an art school in New York City whose mission is to educate students who aspire to become professional artists, have partnered to present a group exhibition of works by alumni of SVA’s BFA Photography Department that explores issues of role playing and identity in the twenty-first-century. Identity Identities (i / i), curated by Stephen Frailey, chair of the BFA Photography Department at SVA, with an accompanying essay by Seth Greenwald, supports Aperture’s mission to promote the work of promising young artists.
The show debuted at the Galleria San Ludovico in Parma, Italy, and was originally coordinated as an exchange between photography students in Parma and the students of SVA, creating two unique shows, both dealing with the theme of identity, that traveled to the other’s country. Aperture is pleased to present the New York debut of the SVA student exhibit in its gallery space, located at 547 West 27th Street in the heart of Chelsea’s art district.
Identity, it has been suggested, is not static, but rather a shifting state of affairs that can be investigated, assimilated, and then rejected, as one does an outfit or a new hairstyle. Today’s successful face transplants performed in France, China, and the United States; gender reassignment surgery; the ubiquity of cosmetic procedures; emotional modification through pharmacology; the commercial cloning of family pets; telecommuting in the work place; and social networking tools that facilitate new communities online: all are examples of how the ways in which we identify, both with ourselves and with others, are bending and evolving.
In Identity Identities (i / i), eleven promising young artists explore the various permutations of identity in today’s rapidly changing world through the fluid and evolving medium of photography that is perhaps best suited to tackle this subject. Themes include how identity manifests itself through group identification, the places we live, and the influence of mass media and advertising. Following are brief summaries of each of the artist’s work in the show:
Allison Yeskel (United States, b. 1986) provides us with photographs of young men who have undergone varying degrees of body modification. Isolated against a black background, these simple portraits recall the earliest days of studio photography.
Joseph Sbarro (United States, b. 1986) fabricates unique figures that synthesize elements from separate bodies; the resulting biomorphic shapes are strangely beautiful, yet nightmarishly grotesque.
Jennifer Lee (Canada, b. 1986) draws on her personal history to create diaristic narratives that combine photography, fashion design, and set construction.
Hugo Fernandez (United States, b. 1985) uses photography as a method for exploring sexual identity and social acceptance.
Jess Shaffer (United States, b. 1984) manufactures self-portraits that explore the slippage of identity between childhood and adulthood, and the extent to which the one impacts the other.
Nicola Kast (Germany, b. 1982) explores German national identity through self-portraiture that portrays social stereotypes and historical tropes.
Victoria Hely-Hutchinson (United Kingdom, b. 1984) makes work that documents life in exclusive, British boarding schools. She has a deeply personal relationship to these institutions: herself, both of her parents, and her siblings have attended them.
Jing Quek (Singapore, b. 1983) investigates secondary communities whose identities are frequently hidden from us in the normal course of our daily experience.
Kelly Clark (United States, b. 1984) juxtaposes photographs of nondescript, suburban houses with descriptions of violent crimes once committed on those properties.
Anula Maiberg (Israel, b. 1982) layers printed statements over abstract backgrounds to create images that speak to issues of power and control.
Susanne Persson (Sweden, b. 1982) manipulates consumer product logos, removing select details and leaving a skeletal framework of form and color.