Galeria Nara Roesler | New York is delighted to inaugurate its 2020 exhibitions program with a group exhibition titled Archaeologies of the Selfie, curated by Luis Pérez-Oramas. The exhibition comments on today's phenomenon of mass image production and dissemination arguably conflated in the recent genre of the selfie. Luis Pérez-Oramas begins by contextualising the case of the selfie through two concurrent ideas: Pierre Bourdieu's theory of Middle-Brow Art and the narcissistic autarchy of the individual. Following Bourdieu's approach, Pérez-Oramas situates the selfie as a symptom of the social use of photography, whereby we can all become photographers by having access to devices that produce easy and increasingly perfect images. Concomitantly, the narcissistic autarchy of the individual addresses the social use of photography as a means of self-representation—either realistic or fantasised—and as a token of one's existence.
From this perspective, one can establish an archaeology of the selfie beginning with the fantasised image of Narcissus' luring and ultimately fatal reflection. Archaeologies of the Selfie thus emerges from this archè, not as an exhibition of photographs nor of selfies, but rather as a curatorial commentary on the dialectic of self-representation and image obliteration—in Pérez-Oramas' words, as an exercise of 'deconstruction of the selfie and reconciliation with slow imagery.'
The core pieces, or historical anchors, of Archaeologies of the Selfie are two paintings: Sun Photo as Self-Portrait (1968) by Antonio Dias—because ultimately all selfies are self-portraits—and Untitled (1961) by Tomie Ohtake, which she painted wearing a blindfold and while being explicitly self-referential in its making, nonetheless results in an obliterated image. These markers are exhibited with pieces by Milton Machado, Cao Guimarães, Paulo Bruscky, Wesley Duke Lee, Vicente de Mello, André Severo and Vasco Szinetar—each of which inherently explores, in their process of making, medium or in their imagery, the different ways in which the self has been depicted, referenced, imagined, obliterated or defied over time. Archaeologies of the Selfie will present pieces from the enduring matter that is the rhetoric around the self, reinvigorated today by the nature of contemporary image production, positioning the selfie within an art historical trajectory that has accompanied this social, anthropological and psychological phenomenon.
About Luis Pérez-Oramas (b. Caracas, 1960)
Writer, poet and art historian. He received a PhD in History of Art, under the direction of Louis Marin and Hubert Damisch, from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (EHESS, 1994). Chief-Curator of the 30th Bienal de São Paulo (2012); Latin American Art Curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), in New York (2003-2017); Curator of the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, in Caracas (1995-2002).
Pérez-Oramas was the curator and co-curator of a number of exhibitions, particularly during his role at MoMA, including: Transforming Chronologies: An Atlas of Drawings (2004), a retrospective of the work of Armando Reverón (2007); New Perspectives in Latin American Art: 1930-2006 (2007); O alfabeto enfurecido: León Ferrari e Mira Schendel, at Fundação Iberê Camargo (2009), in Porto Alegre, and at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS) (2010), in Madrid; L_ygia Clark: O Abandono da Arte_ (2014); Joaquín Torres-García: The Arcadian Modern (2015), at the Museo Picasso, in Barcelona; and Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil, at The Art Institute of Chicago (2017), in Chicago, and at the Museum of Modern Art (2018), in New York.
He taught Art History at the Université de Haute Bretagne-Rennes 2 and at the École Supérieure de Beaux-Arts de Nantes, in France (1987-1993), and Art History and Theory at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Artes Plásticas Armando Reverón and at the Universidade Central da Venezuela, in Caracas, Venezuela (1995-2002). Pérez-Oramas has been invited to lecture at several universities and museums, including, recently, at the INHA and EHESS, in Paris (2013); Barnard College Columbia University (2016); Princeton University (2017-2018-2019); Museo del Prado (2015-2017); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS), in Madrid, and the Gainesville University, Florida (2019). Pérez-Oramas is the author of seven collections of poems (of which the most recent is La dulce astilla (2015), Editorial Pre-textos) and five collections of essays (of which the most recent is Olvidar la Muerte: Pensamiento del toreo desde América (2016) Editorial Pre-textos), as well as his numerous collaborations in exhibition catalogs and specialised art publications. In 2020, Editorial Pre-textos (Valencia, Spain) will publish a collection of his essays entitled La inactualidad de la pintura y vericuetos de la imagen.
Press release courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler.