Self- Portrait in Place
9 December, 2021- 30 January, 2022
American University of Paris
8, Rue Colonel Combes
This exhibition creates a space to contemplate subject formation, the city , illness and the body or the pandemic. It is shaped to encourage exchanges about crossing disciplinary lines and shaping transdisciplinary practices. The exploration of “the subject” and notions of the self I explore might be expanded and generalized by viewers who conceive their own “Self Portrait in Place” using their own frames and preferred media. It features art conceived for "Self Portrait in Montmarte" which I rethink to being into the gallery space.
On May 16, 2021, viewer/participants for that rendition of the Self-Portrait received a map of 12 sites within the 1-kilometer circle. Each site associated the experience of a place with onsite and online elements to shape a moment in the composite, scattered portrait. The neighborhood became a gallery, while cell phones brought what was hidden, indoors in my home into the open air. The process followed my day-to-day paths, while mimicking the movements and practices of the tourists who usually throng the quarter. The self-portrait was thus generated by this mise-en- scene and the movements and observations of participants as they walked from site to site, layering what was in front of them with online sounds and images.
The scattered subject of “Self Portrait in Montmartre” emerged differently for each person. The collected sites did not add up to a unified image, but instead, to a variegated experience. It invited reflection the idea of subject as a self, as the topic of an artwork, on the body and its imbrication in the city. Participants actively made the portrait whole in different ways as they layered the subject “Susan”, or “patient,” or “mother” or “migrant” with the sound of an accordion or of their own breath as they climbed the steep streets of Montmartre.
The new exhibition brings what was outdoors inside to create a space for continued reflection. In the gallery, what was digital now becomes palpable. The body of the viewer is no longer immersed in the city, but instead, in large paintings that appeared much smaller on the screen of a cell phone or computer. The visitor no longer hears their own heart as they climb a staircase. Yet, inside, they may perceive recordings of other out of breath voices more distinctly. Brushstrokes, words and scratches become palpable, while the city becomes image. The new rendition of the portrait narrows attention and perceptions, while it also opens to include aspects of my experience that informed the art but could not be shown during confinement, or did not fit into the lockdown-driven map.
Self-Portrait in Place” follows a path from building entrance to library and then to an atrium that looks out at the Quai d’Orsay and the Seine. Although the rush of students and faculty between classes might intimate the street, the space includes resting places with chairs and coffee tables. In the warm gallery, people can pause in front of a work or sit together to discuss it. They can linger as they associate what they see first-hand with the digital elements. They can make a digital visit of the original self-portrait, or head to Montmartre and retrace it.
Exhibition curated by Blanca Casas Brullet
With special thanks to Antonella Casellato, Waddick Doyle, Caroline Pierce and Jonathan Shimony.