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You'll be My Mirror

By Rhizome

Well before the heady days of Myspace, Friendster, and their social software peers, portraiture was a means to enshrine oneself in a particular cultural milieu. Character Reference, a group exhibition curated by Caitlin Jones at Bryce Wolkowitz gallery in New York, takes portraiture as its subject, exploring the form's power to both reflect and construct identity and culture. In it, diverse, sound and video works by MTAA, Julian Opie, Oliver Laric, Lee Walton, and Marina Zurkow all transcend the representation of individual subjects to scrutinize broader formal strategies or propose new ones. On view is artist and VVORK editor Oliver Laric's 787 Clipart which compiles 'clip art', or images found embedded in Microsoft programs, into an uninterrupted stream. In the piece, wrestlers melt into soldiers, hockey players into figure skaters, rockstars into bagpipe players; their similar bodies and expressions betraying an oppressively narrow view of the human form. In Serial Conversationalist, performance artist Lee Walton records himself as he induces strangers on New York City park benches into conversation, producing a complicated picture of himself as portraitist and distilling a snapshot of the city's psychology through commonplace conversations with a few of its idiosyncratic inhabitants. In a different way, each of the works turns the camera 180 degrees to illuminate the forces that create personas, a relevant undertaking in our persona-driven history and media culture. - Lauren Cornell

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