The Ambiguous Self

The Ambiguous Self

Forever changing and completely undefinable, the concept of “being” is the buzzword for this new exhibition at MoMA, New York, who invite 17 global artists to explore issues of individuality, human activities and self-fulfilment through unconsciously constructing identities.  The final New Photography show, a categorised display with a history of over 30 years, positions emerging artists alongside established creatives, asking how photography, a medium initially championed for its ability to capture likeness in seconds, reveals an element of personhood through compositional genres such as portraiture.

The event asks whether the medium is a trustworthy source, dealing with the complexities of what is real and fake, seen and unseen and issues of agenda which are found upon, and beyond the surface on an image. Although there is an obvious focus on the physicality of the human body, much of the work departs from the limits of human condition, looking instead at the marks of movements and the amalgamation of items or scenes which result in a fluctuating persona. B. Ingrid Olson (b. 1987) creates layered records of varying gestures and sights, positioned around the moment of capturing a photograph.

Joanna Piotrowsa (b.1985) takes intimate snapshots of individuals, or couples, uncannily positioned and often seen supporting one-another through stiff grabs and unfamiliar, uncomfortable holds. Her photographs exist in a black and white palette and work to divulge how identity develops through personal relationships, reflecting MoMA’s department of photography assistant curator Lucy Gallun’s sentiment that “universality does not mean sameness.” This also mirrors a desire to define the medium central to the exhibition, combating an initial unwillingness by society to accept what is conventionally abnormal.

MoMa, New York, 18 March – 19 August. Find out more here.

1. Joanna Piotrowska. XXXI, FROWST. 2013-2014. Gelatin silver print, 50 13/16 × 62 5/8″ (129.1 × 159.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Carol and David Appel Family Fund © 2018 Joanna Piotrowska.