Bellevue Art Museum
The Self, Absorbed
September 4 November 7, 1999
Bellevue Art Museum presents a selection of self-portraits by regional, national, and international artists coming to terms with the implications that new ways of picturing ourselves - cloning, medical imaging, and cosmetic surgery - hold for one of the oldest art forms. The exhibition will address the longevity of the self-portrait as an artistic genre, question the stereotype of the self-absorbed artist, and trace the effects that broad cultural changes have on the ways individuals understand the borders between the self and the world. (above left: Denise Marika, Face Me Photo Series, 1996, inkjet print on sanding belt, felt, steel, 19 inches high, 15 inches diameter; right above: Denise Marika, Face Me (blue), 1996, sanding belt, video, felt, steel, 66 x 32 x 45 inches)
J. D. Beltran (Bay Area, California) refers to the history of art - and to her identity as an artist - in her work. In her Mastercopies Portrait Series, copies of old master paintings are installed alongside video imagery of the artist dressed and made up like the subjects of the paintings. The collision between the two media - painting and video - in this installation shows that the use of physical characteristics to suggest psychological states, though prone to infinite variation, has been a constant in self-portraiture. (left: J. D. Beltran, Mastercopies Portrait Series, Self-Portrait (After Vermeer), 1998, oil on portrait linen, 16 x 20 inches)
Natalie Bookchin says of her Databank work: "The Databank of the Everyday takes as its subject the real everyday uses of computers in our culture: storage, transmission, dissemination, and filtration of bodies of information. The work reflects on what various media - from photography to computers - have always attempted to do, to represent the Truth of life and to organize it into well-defined lists and categories. Featuring the latest in amplified fin de siècle rhetoric, the work vehemently perpetuates the current hysteria surrounding new technologies. The Databank champions the loop as a new form of representation. There is no true beginning or end, only a series of loops with their endless repetitions, halted only by a user's selection or a power shortage. And so, in keeping with the tradition of technology, and in compliance with early twentieth-century avant-garde movements, The Databank heralds its very own twenty-first century manifesto." (left: Natalie Bookchin, Databank of the Everyday, 1996, Still from CD-ROM)
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