28 Oct Who Are You? – A Juried Show About Identity
WHO ARE YOU?
November 29, 2019 – January 4, 2020
Juror: Roula Seikaly, Independent Writer and Curator
Opening Reception with Juror: Friday, December 6, 2019 (6 – 9 pm)
COLORADO PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS CENTER (1070 BANNOCK ST, DENVER, CO 80204)
The Colorado Photographic Arts Center presents Who Are You?, a juried exhibition that explores the concept of identity through the lenses of 34 contemporary photographers. Juror Roula Seikaly selected these artists from a pool of more than 400 entries from photographers located around the world. The public is invited to meet the artists and hear remarks by Ms. Seikaly at a free opening reception on Friday, December 6 (6 – 9 pm). Juror remarks followed by a special one-night only performance by Hayden Dansky and Megan Newton will begin at 7 pm.
Roula Seikaly is an independent writer and curator based in Berkeley, California and a Senior Editor at Humble Arts Foundation. She has curated exhibitions at SF Camerawork, SOMArts, Oregon Center for Photographic Arts, and the Utah Museum of Arts. She contributes to print and online platforms including Aperture, Hyperallergic, Photograph, BOMB Magazine, Afterimage, and KQED Arts.
Pictured above: Regard, “o6-02-2018” (detail), ©Anna Grevenitis
“Who are you” is a simple question that elicits complex answers.
The exhibition Who Are You? comprises the robust and sundry visual responses activated by CPAC’s open call prompt, all of which demonstrate the richness and challenge inherent to defining and discussing identity.
The images selected for this exhibition surpass the too-narrow “nature vs. nurture” dichotomy that typically frames discussions of identity. Although that binary context is a factor, it is far from the only consideration that the represented artists had in mind in producing and sharing their work.
In a socio-political moment in which the phrase “identity politics” is a slur and used regularly to undermine discussions of identity, this exhibition is an act of defiance. These pieces exemplify rigorous critique of discrete yet overlapping topics that inform identity, and around which today’s most polemical cultural arguments rage.
CPAC received many accomplished submissions representing a broad range of photographic processes. Carefully considered and drawn from more than 400 entries, the final selection includes pieces that address identity through unexpected compositional or aesthetic choices. Familiar visual tropes – self or group portraits, for example – are exhibited beside less familiar interpretations of how identity is defined and the multitude experiences that inform such definitions. Through that wide representational swath runs an important throughline: photography is a profound and deeply personal means to reveal individual truths. Witnessing it is a privilege.
Identity is personal, such as hair dyed hot pink or a bathroom selfie that conveys the subject’s tender vulnerability. Identity is public, such as the local and national rituals or pass times which we gather to celebrate, enact, or protest. Identity is how we navigate the world based on skin color or bodily size and ability, here expressed through raw and riveting self portraits. Identity is how we embrace or reject ideas of gender, and nurturing grace to live on our own terms rather than capitulate to societal expectations. Identity is how we relate to the physical and psychological spaces we inhabit. Identity is how we interact with family, friends, lovers, and strangers, and how those interactions shape us immediately and over time.
–Roula Seikaly, Independent Writer and Curator