Saturday, April 1, 2017

Images and their context - Tyanna Buie artist lecture response - The frame is everything

Tyanna Buie's portraits were consistently striking, but the ones that held the most power, in my mind, were the side-of-face mug shots of her family members that she touched up and placed in ornate, gilded frames. The profile in the gold oblong frame, so consistently associated with the European bourgeoisie and royalty, lends a very direct and elevating power to these profiles that otherwise are associated strongly with their original context - the world of the prison industrial complex.

Buie has not, however, stripped these images of their original context, nor has she stripped the elite, wealthy associations from the frames she uses; instead, they become part of the same symbolic item that commemorates the lives of these black (mostly) men who are photographed carelessly in the same position the wealthy elites were painted in centuries ago, before they (the contemporary men) are locked up, part of the ongoing narrative of their lives that otherwise have little in common with those old European aristocrats.

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