Suchitra Mattai: i know you are, but what am i? (De)Framing Identity and the Body: Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City, UT
i know you are, but what am i? (De)Framing Identity and the Body focuses on the use of the figure, in contemporary art, to explore culture, identity, fluidity, body positivity––and to provide a space for self-authorship, unfiltered through the lens of others. The show’s title uses the familiar playground childhood taunt—one that flips an insult into a retort—as an entry point to the exhibition. The title functions here not as a rhetorical question but as a serious inquiry that changes the dynamic of authorship and, ultimately, allows one to define—for themselves—who they are. i know you are, but what am i? seeks to offer the gallery space as a conduit between artist and audience, privileging first-person perspective and the myriad of experiences that emerge from living in the 21st century.
Through various practices, the artists included depict bodies that speak with their own voices and define themselves outside the codes of others. Themes such as story, memory, dream, surrealism, healing, vulnerability, humor, and the fluidity of identity emerge. The recent trend to return to the figure as subject (after decades of rejection) speaks to an era where artists and cultures seek to erode gender stereotypes, colonial viewpoints, and the idealization of the body. Rather, practices today use manipulated bodily forms to embrace the importance and ever-shifting state of self-identity and self-definition.
Participating Artists: Balqis Al Rashed; Fidalis Buehler; Lou Bolin; Jeffery Cheung; Gregg Deal; Monica Kim Garza; Melissa Joseph; Turiya Magadlela; Suchitra Mattai; Shannon McConnell; Ken Gun Min; Hakeem Olayinka; Madrona Redhawk; Dana Robinson; Amber Tutwiler; Gary Vlasic; Jade Walker; Jill Whit; xiouping.