Portraiture has always been motivated by two competing and overlapping desires: the desire to record, and the desire to be recorded. Artists Katy Grannan and Charlie White have examined this tension, exploring concepts of identity and subjectivity in a world increasingly dominated by media representations of the ideal self. The Los Angeles Country Museum Of Art’s The Sun and Other Stars presents two bodies of work that map the fragility and resilience of individuality in contemporary Western culture.
Grannan’s unflinching portraits capture adult subjects along the sun-struck boulevards of the American West, transforming them from obscurity to individuality with pathos and candor. White’s series of blonde teenage girls frames the popular and tyrannical appetite for celebrity with a deadpan lack of sentimentality. These two photographic series, accompanied by Grannan’s first film project and White’s new animation, A Life In B Tween, and personal collections of mass-culture ephemera, provide a visual vocabulary for an examination of the human subject and the encumbering effect of desire and aspiration.
Katy Grannan was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1969. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991, and her MFA from Yale University in 1999. She lives in Berkeley, California. Charlie White was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1972. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1995, and his MFA from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, in 1999. He lives in Los Angeles. The exhibition is curated by Britt Salvesen, head of LACMA’s Wallis Annenberg Photography Department. The exhibition includes 24 photographs and a three-channel video by Katy Grannan; and approximately 50 photographs, varied ephemera, and a video animation by Charlie White.
The exhibition The Sun and Other Stars runs from July 22 through October 14, 2012, and you can learn more about the exhibition by visiting LACMA.org. And I just realized that Charlie White also directed one of my favorite ads of all time — the 2006 ad entitled “Pink” which was part of the Adicolor web campaign. You can learn more about the amazingness that is Charlie White by visiting his website at CharlieWhite.info, and for Katy Grannan’s site you can visit KatyGrannan.com.