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Amelie Chabannes, My Portrait of your Identity

Luxe Gallery
53 Stanton Street, 212-582-4425
East Village / Lower East Side
March 21 - April 27, 2008
Reception: Friday, March 21, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

Featuring a video collaboration with artist Antonia Dias Leite

Taking a crack at the monumental subject of identity seems a lot like plunging yourself into the proverbial briar patch. Identity is an endless entanglement with innumerable pathways, missteps and possibilities. However, this multi-faceted topic may reveal some surprising brilliance, if unearthed and polished by a delicately discerning hand. Amelie Chabannes knows this. Chabannes’ project, realized in several movements, reveals the mutable, contradictory and often fragile state of individual identities. She bores into this reality at particularly poignant time, when obvious efforts to align oneself with national, religious or cultural rubrics seem overwhelmingly prevalent.

Chabannes does not spare herself as subject for her inquiry. “My Portrait of Your Identity” consists of thirty small self-portraits painted in slight relief in which smoke and flames articulate breath and gestures, armies of dots dance to form paisley patterns and then quickly dissolve in to a swirl and flourish of flesh. These dimensional paintings presciently lead into full small-scale sculptures of the artist’s head rendered in various incarnations which elude to different biological substances. The artist’s representable facts dissipate into an unreachable, untouchable amorphous vapor; giving us a true distillation of the vastness and complexity of “portrait”.

Her video collaboration with Brazilian video artist, Antonia Dias Leite, continues the dash at the constant metamorphosis of identity. Interviews ask individuals variously quirky and exposing questions, leaving a man talking about the woman he is, a woman talking about what kind of man she is, what and why they would have particular attributes as a chosen animal, etc. As we hear the participants’ answers and descriptions of themselves in these varied states, Chabannes applies illustrative elements to their faces and figures on the screen. These elements cause the subjects to mutate into their ideas, shifting and rocking before our eyes.

Chabannes’ work portrays our conflicting, shifting inner versions. She understands the wish to understand and even delves right in there but ends up winking in admiration at our attempt to capture an apparition and proving the impossibility of doing so.
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