For many centuries, portraiture has been perceived as an act of vanity and at the same time preservation of individual or family legacy, and thus — an archive of social history. Often related to colonial history and its repercussions, museums and private mansions filled with portraits from floor to ceiling are at the same time monuments to oppression and the dominance of the patriarchal system.
A room full of mirrors rethinks above-mentioned dusty spaces full of silent witnesses of bygone eras in post-colonial optics, and suggest alternative version of them, showing a diversity of artistic voices, practices and visions. Mass surveillance in the modern world pushes people to create avatars, ‘remake’ their appearance in a digital form. But in the age when digitally created selfies rule the world and an endless variety of photographic portraits are easy produced, the act of commissioning a portrait — a common practice in hierarchical societies — seems very last century and even as a bourgeois caprice. Despite the fact that there is no new media or digital art present in the show, many of the works displayed are imprints of the digital world we all inhabit, and reflect completely fresh and modern takes on portraiture as a genre.
The main issues raised by artists presented in the exhibition are post-colonialism, social critique, collective memory and identity; gender in relation to sexuality; legacy of transnational queer histories, particularly as they intersect with art history; female body within constructions of identity, multicultural social spaces and hierarchies.
Artists: Quinci Baker, April Bey, Beni Bischof, Kim Dacres, Ayanna Dozier, Alanna Fields, Kang Seung Lee, Stef Van Looveren, Joiri Minaya, Ekaterina Muromtseva, Victor Ubah, Luis Xertu, Justin Yoon
Curated by Alexander Shchurenkov