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North Carolina Museum of Art presents two contemporary photography exhibitions
Carrie Levy, Thomas from You Before All series, 2009, gelatin-silver print, 30 x 40 in., Courtesy of the artist, © 2009 Carrie Levy.

RALEIGH, NC.- The North Carolina Museum of Art announces two photography exhibitions, both opened July 21, 2013. Reveal: Portraits by Carrie Levy features 35 photographs by San Francisco–based artist Levy, while Outsiders: Facing the Camera brings together 21 photographs by 15 artists from the NCMA’s permanent collection. Both exhibitions examine psychological concepts such as intimacy, vulnerability, and detachment, presenting subjects that embody or display these feelings in unexpected and often unusual ways.

Reveal: Portraits by Carrie Levy
This solo exhibition features photographs selected from several of Carrie Levy’s series created over the past decade: Domestic Stages, Polaroids, and You Before All. Vulnerable, disquieting, and unsettling, Levy’s portraits explore the politics of representation—the gaze of the photographer and the subject of the gaze. By obscuring or withholding the face, twisting and contorting the pose, or tightly cropping the image, Levy abstracts the human body in intimate images.

“Carrie Levy’s portraits reveal everything and nothing at the same time,” says Linda Dougherty, chief curator and curator of contemporary art. “The photographs are extremely intimate and completely revealing but also anonymous and unidentifiable. Visitors may walk away with a new understanding of what makes one vulnerable despite being hidden.”

While a majority of the subjects are turned away from the camera or partially obstructed from view, eyes darkened or body contorted to stay concealed, they still portray a strong sense of intimacy and exposure. The photographs from Levy’s Domestic Stages, for example, consist of portraits of her friends and family members in their homes, unclothed yet hiding their faces. Similarly, the photographs selected from the artist’s You Before All series are cropped images of undressed males, showing just a grimacing face, exposed collar bone, or bare chest. Levy explains, “These works capture the way in which we stare at one another in silent judgment. I’ve chosen to use naked bodies to amplify the vulnerability of my subjects.”

Outsiders: Facing the Camera
This exhibition brings together works from the NCMA’s permanent collection that examine forms of “otherness.” These photographs document subjects who are in some way detached, as portrayed through their postures and expressions.

In each photograph the subjects acknowledge or confront their “otherness”—what makes them interesting and unknowable—over a variety of behaviors and attitudes. “Some wear their strangeness easily, while others challenge the world with theirs. Some are comfortable in their estrangement, whereas others exude pain, discomfort, or melancholy,” says Jennifer Dasal, associate curator of contemporary art.

The works also raise the question of the photographer’s role in creating an outsider. The camera documents, but it also has the ability to reinforce, explain, empathize, and legitimize a subject’s “otherness.” Subjects are captured because they are difficult to understand, but the photograph then allows an intimate moment with the subject, signaling an opportunity to begin to comprehend.

Despite the exhibition’s title, the works feature subjects both looking at the camera and turning away from it, obstructed from view. “The phrase ‘facing the camera’ refers both to the act of literally turning toward the camera and the act of confronting or coping with the camera, whether that is with a certain movement, pose, gesture, or by simply looking into the lens,” Dasal explains.

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