Mining their personal histories and those of collaborators, the artists in The Archaeology of Self explore the human experience, the psychology of self and of everyday life, often re-visiting those significant events that play a role in forming adult identities. Much like archaeologists, these artists consider and highlight individual and social context, using performative, staged, or manipulated imagery to explore the construction of self and relationships.
“I believe that everything is constantly changing, either being generated or destroyed,” writes artist Keun Young Park. “Presence is just a state of being, and the reality of an object has ambiguity in this shifting.” The reality of the self is also consumed by ambiguity and an ever-changing nature. Park applies this analysis to her artistic practice, ripping her photographs into pieces and then re-assembling them, dissecting and disassembling the objects that represent the self in order to more deeply understand individual experiences. Gabríela Friðriksdóttir and Vidya Kamat utilize the symbolism of ancient stories to illuminate how cultural histories influence contemporary social standards and personal identity. Friðriksdóttir creates performative video and photographic works, set in her native Iceland that reference cross-cultural symbols, while Kamat superimposes her own features onto archaeological portrait busts, inserting her own identity into the lineage of Egyptian pharaohs, Roman conquerors, and others. Aneta Bartos and Jill Frank combine memory, fantasy, and voyeurism in staged photographs that reveal both the living and dreaming self, while Bettina von Zwehl transforms a historic practice of silhouettes in profile to examine what is left invisible and untold in portraiture. The seemingly subtle subject matter in these photographs belie the complexity of these intimate explorations. Excavating cultural histories, folklore, and personal experiences, these images probe both the mystery of individual consciousness and the nuances of human relationships, topics that are especially relevant within current discussions about power, identity, gender, and representation.
This exhibition was organized on the occasion of the 2019 Louisville Photo Biennial, which takes place September 20 – November 10, featuring photography exhibitions – spanning traditional to contemporary, local to global work – at museums, galleries, universities, and cultural institutions throughout Louisville Metro, Southern Indiana, and surrounding communities. Learn more here.