The Truth is Not in the Mirror: Photography and a Constructed Identity explores the nature of portraits and portraiture in contemporary photography. Including works by 23 photographers, the imagery engages the viewer in an active dialogue. The contemporary photographic portrait is often a highly constructed artifice whose intent and purpose is to comment on the status of the individual and community and to challenge or trick the viewer into looking deeper into issues of identity, with those portrayed serving as ciphers for the photographer's point of view.
The photographs selected for this exhibition offer a range of image-making strategies: For example, David Hockney relies upon Cubist fracturing to magnify and segregate the details of the subject in his multifaceted portraits, whereas Kelli Connell digitally creates double self-portraits that consist of one seamless image built from several. Nikki S. Lee becomes the subject of her work, relying upon others to take her snapshot portraits. Lee Friedlander flattens the picture plane by merging foreground and background, confusing the relationships between the photographer and his subjects.
Each photographer blurs the parameters of truth and believability in their own way with a diverse range of approaches to visual storytelling. Mickalene Thomas' staged portraits of African American women directly reference historical artworks, while LaToya Ruby Frazier's images depict the emotive states of people whose relationships are disintegrating in front of the camera. Works by Graham Miller seem to tell a fragment of a longer story, while Philip Lorca diCorcia's staged fictions use participants unaware of their participation in the work, leaving viewers to wonder where the story begins and ends.
The artists in the exhibition include: Tina Barney, Claire Beckett, Valerie Belin, Dawoud Bey, Jesse Burke, Kelli Connell, Michael Corridore, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, Jason Florio, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Andy Freeberg, Lee Friedlander, David Hockney, Nikki S. Lee, Graham Miller, Martin Parr, Thomas Ruff, The Sartorialist, Alec Soth, Will Steacy, Larry Sultan, and Mickalene Thomas.
This exhibition was organized by the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
University Galleries is incorporating The Truth is Not in the Mirror into a year-long project entitled Picture This, which brings youth from the community into the gallery for photography workshops. During the exhibition, each student will use the works on view as inspiration to visualize their own identity and sense of community through creating their own photographs.