All month long I’ve had a tab on my screen, teasing and taunting me, about a show that helped set the tone for these last four weeks of blogging. I opened and saved the tab in late January as I was preparing to take on “Identity” as my topic here on Fotoblog. In my first post, it was this Haggerty Museum exhibition I was looking into—“I was browsing a museum site for information about an exhibition”—when I was happily and productively distracted by Shilpa Gupta’s flapboard work 24:00:01.
When I returned to the tab I rediscovered what I’d left open for viewing later—the Flickr album compiled from the Haggerty’s 2011 The Truth is Not in the Mirror: Photography and a Constructed Identity. I have to admit, this was a provocative phrase and a fine thematic exhibition, closely linked to my thoughts for HC Fotoblog February. Perhaps too closely; I might have spent the whole month addressing it, and the work in the show. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but my wandering eye got the better of me.
I was fortunate to have Googled it up in January. I exchanged an email or two with the show’s curator, Walter Mason, who is now the Director of the Sheldon Museum of Art at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He wrote that the show arose from an accumulation of meetings with “young photographers who were asking questions about truth, or constructing truths.” Wally found himself matching these young questioners with older artists who had clearly shared concerns. So, it was an exemplary line-up: Tina Barney, Claire Beckett, Valérie Belin, Dawoud Bey, Jesse Burke, Kelli Connell, Michael Corridore, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, Jason Florio, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Andy Freeberg, Lee Friedlander, David Hockney, Nikki S. Lee, Graham Miller, Martin Parr, Thomas Ruff, Scott Schuman (aka “The Sartorialist”), Alec Soth, Will Steacy, Larry Sultan, and Mickalene Thomas.
Please see the exhibition catalogue PDF here, because I would need another month to go through all of these artists. Their truths are entirely relevant to my musings, and I am glad Wally and I overlapped on Nikki S. Lee; as I noted earlier, I think her work is brilliantly conceived around the challenge of both recognizing and articulating identity in images. There are several artists on Wally’s checklist I would have gladly considered (even did consider, in passing) during my IQ month, and even a few I didn’t know before. In my opinion, these identity-interrogating works are essential to knowing where I end and you begin. The Cs, to my B and the artists’ As.
The sun has set in Ostfildern. This is where my monologue ends, and Fotoblog March begins. Danke sehr, Hatje Cantz. Auf Wiedersehen!
p.s. And as a real postscript, here are six images that reflect my identity from a period of time, roughly four years ago. Since I made them and know the back stories, the IQ of these half-dozen images is very high. In Johari window terms, though, they are more façade than arena. And I’d guess there’s some blind spot and completely unknown in there as well. Much more musing to be done. Tschüss.