How do I look?
Get your hair done. Put your face on. For an exhibition called “portraits and faces” you’d assume it’s probably good to look your best. Upon entering the exhibition space, you’ll quickly realise that it doesn’t really matter. (Artikel Textem, Kunst Magazin, Comic Guide)
On these walls, the curves of a nose and the smirk of a smile are not as relevant as the cultural, emotional and gender labels that we assign to them. Here the fullness of your lips is not as important as the words that leave them.
Of course this shouldn’t really come as any surprise. Anyone who has ever delved in the world of internet dating knows that the pixelated representation of the person you are about to meet is NEVER what you get. I mean is it even possible to respond to your best friend’s question of what your date looked like by focusing purely on the visual? I would say definitely not (and I suppose if this exhibition could talk, it would say the same).
And so the throbbing question lurks in the air as you try to understand the characters portrayed in this show: what’s in a face?, or what’s the most honest – the most human – translation of who we are? Is it the cheeky depiction of Robert Crumb’s young, female yeti drawing, or the haunting snapshot of a reclining lady in a Monika Baer collage; the screaming, almost faceless cartoon character of Raymond Pettibon, or the photographic portrait of Basquiat, rebelliously (tragically) declaring that he is still here? Whichever it is, and regardless of where you look, you’ll find yourself somewhere in these rooms, peering through the brush strokes, photographs and texts that line the walls.
I left the exhibition feeling as if I had just stumbled out of a party for which the host had made the utmost effort to invite the most eclectic bunch of friends possible. I left the exhibition wondering if they all get along at night, when the visitors are gone and the lights are off.