Online Viewing Rooms - Art Basel

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Online Viewing Rooms - Art Basel

Yancey Richardson is proud to present “Personas”, a selection of work by Mickalene Thomas, Zanele Muholi and Tseng Kwong Chi, three gallery artists whose photographs explore race, gender, and personal identity through portraiture. By utilizing elements of performance through the creation of characters and personas, these artists have made significant and lasting artistic contributions as representative voices for their communities.

Mickalene Thomas is recognized for her visually and conceptually layered compositions, created through an array of media including painting, collage, photography, video and installation. Through the lens of the African American female experience, her portraits and interior environments meld the visual vocabularies of art history and popular culture to examine issues of black identity, femininity, sexuality and power.

Since 2015, South African artist and visual activist Zanele Muholi has created an ongoing body of self-portraits called "Somnyama Ngonyama" (translated from Zulu as “Hail, the Dark Lioness”). Turning the camera on themself, the artist adopts different poses, characters and archetypes to address issues of race and representation. The resulting images explore themes of labour, racism, Eurocentrism and sexual politics, often commenting on events in South Africa’s history and Muholi’s experiences as a South African black queer person traveling abroad. By enhancing the contrast in the photographs, Muholi also emphasizes the darkness of their skin tone, reclaiming their blackness with pride and re-asserting its beauty.

The resulting images explore themes of labour, racism, Eurocentrism and sexual politics, often commenting on events in South Africa’s history and Muholi’s experiences as a South African black queer person traveling abroad. By enhancing the contrast in the photographs, Muholi also emphasizes the darkness of their skin tone, reclaiming their blackness with pride and re-asserting its beauty.

In 1979, Tseng Kwong Chi (1950 - 1990) began his iconic photographic series, “East Meets West” and its follow-up, “Expeditionary Series,” in which he appeared in dark glasses and a Zhongshan suit, the uniform favored by Mao Zedong. Thus outfitted, he posed at famous sites like Mount Rushmore and the Eiffel Tower and natural wonders like Niagara Falls and the Canadian Rockies. In these darkly comical images, rendered as square, black and white prints, Tseng's persona has an enigmatic, vaguely disquieting presence. He described himself as "an inquisitive traveler, a witness of my time, an ambiguous ambassador." Combining performance and photography, political satire and cultural identity, Tseng’s pioneering series exemplifies the art of the eighties while anticipating the social, political and philosophical themes of the present day.

Online Viewing Rooms - Art Basel

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