PICTURE YOURSELF: Selfies, Cellphones, and the Digital Age
February 2-April 12, 2016
(Closed March 12-28 for the College's Spring Break)
Sussel Gallery and the Burton D. Morgan Gallery
- PICTURE YOURSELF LAB
Wednesday, February 10 & 17
Visit the CWAM during these extended
museum hours to both see the exhibition
and have CWAM staff assist you in the
PICTURE YOURSELF LAB.
(Please see below for a description of
- TUESDAY TOURS
Drop in on any Tuesday at noon for
a tour and assistance in the LAB.
- ARTIST TALK
Wednesday, March 30
7:00 p.m., Sussel Gallery
About the Exhibition
The six artists in PICTURE YOURSELF are concerned with constructions of the self in an era of mass consumerism, rapid technological advancements, urban chaos, vast inequalities, online dating, shifting norms in gender and sexuality, and communities beyond the borders of our physical worlds. Their works ask us to rethink selfies as something other than vanity projects for public presentation. Instead, created with refracted, distorted, and manipulated technologies, these artists shed light on how we perform the self in and for a multivariable world.
Andy Warhol’s iconic self-portraits (1963–1986) are prescient images of self performance that play with notions of gender, sexuality, and youth. Warhol’s unapologetic expressions are meant to push against our ideas of propriety—whether in lipstick or a fright wig—and reconsider our ideas of what is or is not acceptable or respectable. Like Warhol who casts himself as the subject for analysis, Luis Flores examines the relationship between masculinity and performance in the knitted, life size version of himself angling an iPhone toward his face. On the wall in front of the figure, a red neon sign reads, Whatever You Want It To Be, literally illuminating the desire to satiate an audience.
While Warhol and Flores foreground the masculine self, Daniel Arnold and Farideh Sakhaeifar appear in their photographs subtly, almost ghostly; the self is present in the faces of strangers. Shot on an iPhone, Arnold’s subway photos capture subway riders immersed in their own worlds. He appears only as shadow or reflection against tired faces or wide-eyed children. Sakhaeifar’s Workers Are Taking Photographs is a series dedicated to Iranian men working in construction sites or grocery, wood, and metal shops. She enters these male-dominated spaces and asks them to photograph themselves by saying, “hold the cable and release when ready.” Behind them, feminine hands hold a white backdrop. Like Arnold, Sakhaeifar controls the image but only appears fleetingly, seeking instead to illuminate the other.
Rollin Leonard and Sean Fader also distort the self, but concentrate on technological manipulations and socially engaged digital spaces to do so. In Leonard’s Spinning Wheel of Death he photographs his face through water droplets created by spraying a hydrophobic liquid on glass. We encounter his face not as a whole but as broken up, distorted, and reshaped in each drop of water. Fader examines the self-generated depictions of men on online dating and hook-up sites. In Sup?, which takes its title from an informal greeting, Fader juxtaposes two images of the same man. The first picture is a reflection of who Fader imagines them to be from their online profile, the other is taken after they have met. There are striking differences between Fader’s fantasies and how the men see themselves.
In deftly manipulating technology and cultural norms, the artists in PICTURE YOURSELF highlight how self-representations are acute responses to the world we inhabit as well as testaments to versions of ourselves that we look away from, closet, or seek greater intimacy with. Together, these artists examine how we can see each other more clearly by obscuring, refracting, and reflecting a version of ourselves that betrays who we imagine and project ourselves to be.
Leah Mirakhor, Assistant Professor, Department of English
The College of Wooster
PICTURE YOURSELF: Selfies, Cellphones, and the Digital Age is organized by The College of Woostser Art Museum (CWAM), and co-curated by Leah Mirakhor and Kitty McManus Zurko, CWAM Director/Curator.
About the PICTURE YOURSELF LAB
The PICTURE YOURSELF LAB includes props, materials for prop making, selfie sticks, and other equipment for taking selfies. A selection of selfies taken in this LAB (or elsewhere), and submitted to the CWAM’s PICTURE YOURSELF Instagram account, will be presented in the museum lobby and in this gallery during the course of the exhibition.
If you choose to participate in this project by submitting a selfie, please use the hashtag below. We thank you in advance for your participation, encourage you to be thoughtful, and most of all, have fun!
PICTURE YOURSELF exhibition hashtag: #pictureyourselfcwam
PICTURE YOURSELF LAB content developers include: Tilly Alexander ’16, Dani Gagnon ’16, Clair Ilersich ’17, Sue Reon Kim ’16, Robin Klaus ’16, Katie Stephens ’15, Petr Wiese ’16, and Doug McGlumphy, CWAM Preparator/Collections Manager.
*Please note that the CWAM may not be able to display all submitted selfies.
We thank the artists, galleries, and collectors who so graciously made possible the loans that comprise PICTURE YOURSELF. They are: Luis Flores, Dean Valentine and Amy Adelson, and James Bae of Grice Bench, Los Angeles; Farideh Sakhaeifar and William Holman Gallery, New York; Rollin Leonard, Los Angeles, and Transfer Gallery, Brooklyn, New York; Sean Fader and Denny Gallery, New York; and Daniel Arnold, Brooklyn. We also thank Flavor Paper, Brooklyn, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., New York, for their support of this project.
Many participate in the realization of all CWAM projects, and I extend a warm thank you to my co-curator and collaborator, Leah Mirakhor, for her layered and nuanced contributions. I also thank Doug McGlumphy, CWAM Preparator/Collections Manager, who designed the sensitive installation, and consulted on all aspects of this project.
Finally, we thank the PICTURE YOURSELF LAB content developers for their ideas and efforts. They include: Tilly Alexander ’16, Dani Gagnon ’16, Claire Ilersich ’17, Sue Reon Kim ’16, Robin Klaus ’16, Katie Stephens ’15, and Petr Wiese ’16.
Kitty McManus Zurko, CWAM Director/Curator