This series will be in an exhibit at The Works Art & Design Festival June 20 - July 2, 2019 at Capital Plaza on the Legislature Grounds.

Combining 19th century carte-de-visites portraits with contemporary haute couture fashion, this series explores mash-ups embodying the evolution of photography as social media and social currency.

Beginning in the Victorian era, the shared social ritual of adopting a visual persona to present objectified versions of oneself (based on superficial signifiers or codified visual language) has continued to be a socially sanctioned and standardized mode of self-presentation. The carte was a powerful means of virtual introduction, through which subjects could create an objectified version of themselves and use it to initiate and maintain social relationships. These carefully calibrated images, designed to materially alter one’s social circumstances, gained meaning through circulation in society. Just as we continue to do with modern social media. 

This series examines the constructed nature of identities and how society, culture, and even the objects around us shape and define us. It explores how we decode a person or a group based on superficial signifiers including the things we wear, show, or share that make up our personal presence, and questions the performance of identity. Is our personal identity mostly a calibrated performance? Can we be defined by how we look, our environment, and the things around us? 

The frames of these paintings have been carved to convey details related to how the subjects would present the image. The left sides of the frames all have Victorian terms of endearment, and the right sides all have stacks or totems of digital icons and emojis. The tops and bottoms of the frames have a plate with the words “<status>” and </status>”, these are written in code format with an opening tag and closing tag, to convey that this piece is essentially a coded block that conveys status.

Title: <status> series
Date: November 2018
Medium: Acrylic on wood frame
Dimensions: Overall view of 21 frames, each 6” x 10”


Here are some photos of the process and progress. Click on the images to see captions.

Tanya CampComment