A Study in Portraiture: Act II has now concluded at London’s MOT International. It’s been an incredible three weeks for the project as Heather Cantrell took over one-hundred portraits of the London art community such as curators Hans Ulrich Obrist, Julia Peyton-Jones, Andrew Renton, Iwona Blazwick and the Whitechapel exhibitions department, Paul Pieroni, and Lizzie Neilson; artists Clunie Reid, Ursula Mayer, George Young, Mark Titchner, and Michael Nyman; dealers Anthony Wilkinson and Chris Hammond; patrons Anita Zabludowicz and Myriam Blundell. Cantrell managed to capture a definitive moment in London now by photographing those emerging from Goldsmiths MFA programme to established curators and artists.
The enthusiasm of the London curators, artists, dealers, and patrons is not to be under-estimated and we thank everyone who supported the first international portion of this project!
View all of the behind-the-scenes photographs and selected portraits on the Flickr page for A Study in Portraiture.
Heather Cantrell – A Study in Portraiture: Act II
Curated by Caryn Coleman
25 November – 19 December, 2009
Private view: Friday, 27 November from 6:30-9pm
MOTInternational: 54 Regents Studios, 8 Andrews Road, London E8 4QN / firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 (0)20 7923 9561
From John Baldessari to David Yow, Heather Cantrell has always looked within her own tribe of artists, curators, and musicians in her exploration of community and subcultures. Now, she looks to the London art scene with A Study in Portraiture: Act II as part of her ongoing international ethnographic study that simultaneously documents, subverts, and reveals identities of the art world through performative portraiture. Having debuted in Los Angeles this summer, MOT International plays host to ‘Act II’ in this ongoing series, transforming the gallery into an ‘in-house’ photography for the duration of the exhibition.
Heather Cantrell’s A Study in Portraiture: Act I is reviewed in the November 2009 issue of Artforum.
For eight weeks last summer, Heather Cantrell’s “A Study in Portraiture: Act I” transformed part of Kinkead Contemporary into a functioning portrait studio equipped with a stockpile of costumes and props: painted backdrops, animal skins, cardboard cutouts of wolves and snakes, silk flowers, hats, masks, and household objects. And during the exhibition’s run, Cantrell held a series of public photo shoots, to which she invited a subsection of the Los Angeles art community. With her input, participants could choose accoutrements and a backdrop. (For some special individuals, the artist made her own nude body available for placement in the scene.) After arranging the sitter in a bizarre pose, Cantrell took two black-and-white images in quick succession with a 4 x 5 camera: One, a negative, went to the artist’s archives; the other, a Polaroid, was added to an accumulating display on the gallery’s wall. Also on view was a formal presentation of unique prints from sessions held at Cantrell’s studio in the summer of 2008, marking the origin of the project. One of the most successful images in that group, A Study in Portraiture (Ben Lord), 2008, where a young, determined-looking artist readily holds a balloon sword, was also the simplest.
You can read the full review here via PDF .
HEATHER CANTRELL AT KINKEAD CONTEMPORARY
An exhibition of photography, both goofy and dry
BY CHRISTOPHER MILES
Published on July 15, 2009 at 4:26pm
What has made Heather Cantrell such an interesting photographer over the last few years has been her ability to interrogate the underpinnings, conventions and functions of photography and its particular genres while nonetheless extending, and even honoring, the very traditions she problematizes. She is simultaneously conceptualist, classicist and critic in the most engaged sense. She’s also — sometimes more goofily, sometimes more dryly — playful and humorous, and there’s no better example than her current exhibition at Kinkead Contemporary, which strikes somewhere between goofy and dry…READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW HERE
Los Angeles-based photographer Heather Cantrell lays elaborate groundwork for her seemingly fresh and casual portraits. Employing props, costumes, and references to both Western art history and tribal ritual, she deconstructs the mechanisms of portraiture, subverting the genre’s claims to truth and accuracy in the construction of identity. Her work is both profound and transparently DIY; she further lays her process bare as she transforms one of the gallery’s rooms into a functioning portrait studio, in which she’ll practice her craft before a live audience throughout the exhibition’s run — volunteers wanted.
ForYourArt (Los Angeles) asked me to write a guest blog post about curating Heather Cantrell’s A Study in Portraiture: Act I:
When Heather Cantrell began her Polaroid portrait project, now called A Study in Portraiture, last summer it instantly crystallized what she has been conceptually doing throughout her past four bodies of work. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her for the last six years (starting in 2003 at my former gallery, sixspace) and have steadily seen the performative aspect grow and morph into things she was already exploring such as fictional narratives and sub-cultural identities. I have also seen how, because she is using photography, the viewer reads the surface image without considering what lies beneath. But as I was sitting in her studio last July, sweating underneath a sheep mask and intensely hot lights, I realized that these portraits best represent the conceptual core of her work…READ THE REST HERE