Curated by Chris Bors, Gallery Director
Exhibition dates: November 7 — December 13, 2017
Opening Reception: November 14, 2017, 6—8 pm
Gallery Bergen, West Hall 329
Artists: C.J. Chueca, Amir H. Fallah, Carla Gannis, Rico Gatson, Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly, Fariba Hajamadi, Jeannette Louie, Gustavo Prado
Identity Document features eight artists from diverse backgrounds working in painting, sculpture, video, film, and photography that address the idea that identity can be fluid. It can be represented in many forms, including the concrete, the abstract and somewhere in between. It can be both the self and the other. In our current social and political climate, great emphasis is placed on immigration, geography and nationality, although we have never been a more global society given the ease of travel, communication technology, and the web.
Many of these works could be said to address these contradictions indirectly and none of them should be taken at face value. Instead, the works in Identity Document both celebrate and analyze personhood in complex ways, looking to raise questions about what identity means today.
C.J. Chueca (born in Peru) creates realistic looking walls out of ceramic tiles, wood, concrete and plaster. Although the story they tell is open to interpretation, they could be thought of as metaphors for vulnerable people, a body in crisis and layered experiences. Their physical imperfections are blatant, but we don’t know exactly what they represent.
The lushly-painted portraits of Amir H. Fallah (born in Iran) depict concealed individuals and allude to memories and symbolism of Middle-Eastern culture and in the case of his Milk Maid, 2016, to the work of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. Adorned with patterned fabric, Fallah’s mysterious souls exude a complex personal narrative.
The self-portrait videos of Carla Gannis (born in the US) shows her inserting herself
into looped digital environments, referencing art history as well as our uncertain future. Her Nude Descending a Staircase, 2016, for example, uses Marcel Duchamp’s painting as a starting point for clones of the artist entering a tumultuous body of water.
Rico Gatson’s (born in the US) “Family” series of manipulated digital photographs alludes to his own family’s migration from Georgia to California in the late 1960s. Their rainbow hues and light leak quality suggest an optimistic viewpoint about the struggle of the black migration out of the American South that occurred from World War I through the 70s.
The photographs of Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly (born in the US) depicting tourists at iconic locations comment on selfie culture and focus on the narcissism of the individual. They show that history and culture now take a back seat to our own pleasure and moment in time and that the past is secondary to the act of documenting our contemporary existence.
Bergen Community College faculty member Fariba Hajamadi (born in Iran) documented the diverse community at the college with her large-scale color portraits of students. Each subject shared a personal story that accompanied their portrait, making the work relatable to others with shared experiences.
The films of New Jersey-based Jeannette Louie (born in the US) explore our inner-identities and hover somewhere between our conscious and unconscious mind. Louie’s Amygdala, 2013, is an experimental film that illustrates how the perception of fear operates by combining the lyrical tradition of a fairy tale with the vernacular nature of presenting scientific fact.
The mirrored elements of Gustavo Prado’s (born in Brazil) industrial metal sculptures allow the viewer to capture themselves and their surroundings with a quick glance but potentially conceal as much as they reveal. Jutting from the wall, they resemble a cubist security system and create a situation where the fantasy of our environment circumvents the reality.