12 November 2008

Charlie White

Charlie White

...born 1972, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a Los Angeles-based artist.

White’s work has been exhibited internationally in museums such as The Center of Contemporary Art of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain; ZKM Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe, Germany; Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, China; Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA; Oberösterreichisches Landesumuseum, Linz, Austria; Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne, Australia; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York.

Using a combination of fiction, artifice, and make-believe to represent the human condition, many of White's photographs explore America’s social fictions and the tensions in identity and perception they generate. White shares a relationship with the directorial forms of photography practised by such artists as Gregory Crewdson and Jeff Wall. Applying cinematic techniques, his set-up photographs are directed and staged narrative stills. This narrative focus can be perceived in his previous photographic series like In a Matter of Days (1999) or Understanding Joshua (2001) which employ a pictorial play between reality and fiction, occasionally taken to grotesque extremes.

Understanding Joshua is a series of photos of a puppet meant to represent "complete fragility manifest in a body," placed in various situations related to human relationships.

White orchestrates a universe of cultural signifiers and iconic moments to construct a revised history of human violence, while at the same time creating an externalization of a nation’s worst fears for its self-image. Whatever their own innate brutality, the subjects represented in Everything is American are also shown to be victims, though none of White's images are truly innocent. Even at their most anonymous and lyrical, each subject bears the undercurrent of violence. The leitmotif that links the images is the feeling of loss of innocence and the failures of Utopia and the American dream.

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