How Do You Want Me?
Inspired by Hew Locke’s large-scale photographs from the series How Do You Want Me?, this exhibition presents portraits and self-portraits from the Kemper Museum Permanent Collection that emphasize the complexities of a dynamic dialogue between artist and subject. In Locke’s large-scale photographs, an oblique, almost imperceptible form of self-portraiture playfully addresses what is both hidden and revealed as the viewer sorts through an elaborate array of objects that adorn the body of the artist in his studio. For Locke, the elaborate settings denote tensions between Afro-Caribbean culture and European colonialism.
Jaimie Warren’s theatrically constructed self-portraits are derived from a mash-up of web-inspired imagery, the art historical canon of portraiture, and an array of pop-culture references. Reflecting the Internet’s widespread contextual confusion in Untitled (Self Portrait, Red and Flowers, Tokyo) (2007), Warren awkwardly inserts herself in a flower shop in Tokyo.
In Neeta Madahar’s Sharon with Peonies and Suky with Cherry (both 2010) from the Flora series, the artist collaborated with each sitter for several years to create these unique, elaborate tableaux. Madahar also referenced the work of early-twentieth- century photographer of high society Madame Yevonde (1893–1975), adding another layer of art historical context. Chuck Close explores another mode of intimate knowledge between artist and sitter by using the archaic daguerreotype photographic process. He takes the tiny prints and digitally scans them, in the process revealing the extreme detail in a larger format image. Close’s Lorna 1 (1996, printed 1997) captures the connection between Close and fellow artist Lorna Simpson.
How does the sitter want to be seen?
What personal, cultural, and technological influences are at play in the making and viewing of these works of art?
Whether the subject or the artist asks, “how do you want me,” a broader narrative regarding one’s perceived place in the world unfolds in the layers of meaning woven into each image.