Throughout this week CEG will be showcasing the artists that are being exhibited at the AIPAD Photography Show New York, April 4-7, 2013. CEG is featuring the work of Keliy Anderson-Staley, Daniel Beltrá, John Cyr, Elizabeth Ernst, Frieke Janssens, Lori Nix and Gregory Scott.
Our fifth featured artist is Keliy Anderson-Staley. CEG first exhibited Keliy’s [hypen] Americans project during our Installed exhibition in 2012. Since that time, we have taken her work to several art fairs including AIPAD 2013. Later this year, Waltz Photo Books will publish a book on Keliy’s project, On a Wet Bough, titled after a haiku by Ezra Pound. Below are four tintypes that are on view at AIPAD (more than 30 unique tintypes from her project on display).
The title of this portrait project refers, of course, to the hyphenated character of American identities (Irish-American, African-American, etc.), while only emphasizing the shared American identity. Cumulatively, these portraits compose a broadly inclusive portrait of America. With each portrait I hope to capture a powerful likeness, which I then title only with a first name. Each portrait is revealing but anonymous. Each is also uniquely representative of an individual but not of a particular group. Therefore, although the heritage of each individual might be inferred from assumptions we make about features and costumes, the viewer is encouraged to suspend the kind of thinking that would traditionally assist in decoding these images in the context of American identity politics.
Like the photographers of the 1850s, I use hand-poured chemistry that I mix myself according to original recipes, period brass lenses, and wooden view cameras to expose positive images directly onto blackened aluminum and glass. The nineteenth-century collodion process was frequently used for “scientific” ethnographic studies of the human face, many of which were based in racist assumptions about physiognomy. Simply by my choice of medium, I am alluding to this history, and with it I aim to draw attention to the fact that images of ourselves exist within a history of images. Our identities are linked to the visual history of social difference, a history in which photography has not always played an innocent role.
A large part of my practice as a photographer includes the involvement of my subjects in the creation of the images that represent them. Looking out at the viewer as if looking at themselves in a mirror, the individuals assert their selfhood and resist any imposed or external categorizing system. Once the image joins my installations, each individual becomes part of the larger collection, but is not lost, insisting with his or her intense gaze that we look back.
For more on Keliy’s work and process watch her Artist Talk recorded at CEG in 2012.
To view more work by Keliy Anderson-Staly, visit our website or visit booth #204 at AIPAD.