Monday, November 10, 2008

Contemporary Art: IDENTITY

In what various ways does "identity" play a role in Contemporary Art?

--Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation
--Geography as Identity
-Fictionalized Space as Identity
-A new history as identity.

IDENTITY in Post-Modern Theory

Death of the Author (Roland Barthes)
-Considers the limits of individual self-expression.
-Criticizes viewr's tendency to consider aspects of the author's identity to distill meaning from his/her work.
-Doubting the Ultimate Truth.

Identity is CONSTRUCTED (Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault).

-One is not born with a unified, inevitable identity.
-Identity is a product of culture, created by a network of independent forces in the society that 1) define roles 2) govern behavior and 3) order power relations.

Identity is RELATIONAL (Lucy Lippard).
-Identity is always in relation to something/someone else (how are we similar, how are we different).
-Identity results from network of independent forces.
-Any culture defines itself in relation to or in opposition to other cultures.
-Relations are never relations of equality.

Identity is COMMUNAL
-Shaped by group associations and social variables.

Examinations of Identity in Contemporary Art
-Identity is Communal or Relational
-Identity is Hybrid
-Identity is Political
-Identity is Constructed (critique of essentialism)
-Identity is Fluid/In Flux - Not fixed (when are you your true self?)
-Identity is Sexually Diverse
-Identity can be reinvented

"Dyke," 1992, Cibachrome Print.
-Makes powerful statements about the socially constructed identity.

CATHERINE OPIE - "Sky", C-Print.



Catherine Opie - Melissa & Lake, Durham, North Carolina. 1998.

Catherine Opie - Joanne, Betsy, & Olivia.

FELIX GONZALEZ-TORRES: American, born in Cuba. Gay male.
Gonzalez-Torres was known for his quiet, minimal installations and sculptures.

-Using materials such as strings of lightbulbs, clocks, stacks of paper, or packaged hard candies, Felix Gonzalez-Torres's work is sometimes considered a reflection of his experience with AIDS.

Stack of Photolithographs: Must be replenished every time the stack is reduced; very conceptually based, based on the idea of generosity. Constant giving.

Untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA): Invites visitors to take from this pile:

Another installation - one stack of paper is labeled "veteran's day," and the other "memorial day."

JAMES LUNA, Half Indian/ Half Mexican. Installation and performance artist. Embraces idea of hybridity, recognizing cultural background.

Luiseno, Diegueno, Mexican, 20th century. 1991. Black & White photograph:

James Luna in his performance: The Artifact Piece
"For the performance piece Luna donned a loincloth and lay motionless on a bed of sand in a glass museum exhibition case. Luna remained on exhibit for several days, among the Kumeyaay exhibits at the Museum of Man in San Diego. Labels surrounding the artist's body identified his name and commented on the scars on his body, attributing them to "excessive drinking." Two other cases in the exhibition contained Luna's personal documents and ceremonial items from the LuiseƱo reservation. "

-The viewer become the one that is watched by him in this exhibition.

"Two Walls" from the James Luna Exhibition at the Centro Cultura de la Raza. A room has a television and a Ntive American altar on a dirt-coverd floor. The door and a row across the top of the room have been painted with indigenous symbols.
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