Discursive Selves Exhibition Proposal for Triple Canopy’s 2016 call for proposals

Eric Lawton and Daphne Takahashi

Sample artist list: Aneta Bartos, Nicolas Bloise, Elliott Brown Jr., John Edmonds, Nona Faustine, Serena Jara, Rin Johnson, Tommy Kha, Pixy Yijun Liao, Matthew Morrocco, Bryson Rand, Paul Sepuya, Luke Smithers

Sample Exhibition Design:

Confirmed Gallery Space: Westbeth Gallery 55 Bethune Street New York, NY 10014

Sample Works:

Aneta Bartos is interested in the human body as a spiritual, magical and mysterious energy. In this image from the series Dad, voyeurism falls much deeper than just simple pleasure of looking. Through photography, Bartos delves into the psyche of the body— a vessel through which passions, fears and taboos collectively find a home.

Nicolas Bloise explores the deception that permeates fantasy in a series of self portraits taken in hourly motel rooms. In photographing himself, his body becomes an extension of these rooms— rendered vulnerable, nude, and alone. Bloise tests the confines of his own fantasies, staging his self-portraits as temporal constructions manufactured to deceive.

Elliot Brown Jr.’s work considers the intersection between Blackness and homosexuality. Invested in how identities are socialized and performed, he grapples with notions of privacy as they are informed by public and political discourses. Using self-portraiture as his foremost medium, he creates a point of entry for the queer identity into historical and contemporary productions of Blackness.

John Edmonds explores ideas of the public and private self throughout his photography. Photographing hoods—an article of clothing that many understand as presumably “urban” and masculine—allows Edmonds the idiosyncratic agenda of looking mainly at a surface, while trying to get closer to what is underneath. His interest lies in the space of slippage in portraiture, the in-between moments of performing a self and the truth that this reveals.

Through the family album in Nona Faustine’s self-portraiture, she explores issues about the black body within photography and history and the inherited legacy of trauma. In her series White Shoes, she builds from stereotypes, folklore, and anthropology in order to reconstruct a narrative of race, memory, and history. Using her body as a central component of the landscape, Faustine situates herself within a photographic tradition yet simultaneously questions the very culture that bred that tradition.

Through self-documentation, Serena Jara wrestles with questions of agency that are specific to trans-women, as well as ideas about feminist power. Focusing on the relationship between spectator and subject, Jara displays herself as she wishes to be perceived by her audience. By evoking honesty and comfort, she dismantles the third wall and peers directly at her viewers as a way to invite them closer.

Rin Johnson is a photo conceptual artist and poet. Interested in the intersections of lived-space and memory, Johnson creates images and abstract works based on photographs. Through collage, construction, and staged performances, Johnson explores the canonization of human life and the attempt to formalize human feeling.


Tommy Kha’s photographs operate in the conventions of the Self-Portrait, exploring the divide between self depiction, image, and representation. Intwined within this dynamic Kha explores the relationship between performance and the camera, as evidenced by his kissing stranger series, Return to Sender. Kha not only reflects on his own relationship exposed through the camera, but also examines the performance of social intimacy in a public setting.

Pixy Liao's series Experimental Relationship explores the alternative possibilities of heterosexual relationships. As the main photographic subjects, Liao and her partner Moro question gender identity norms through reversing traditional male and female manifestations of power. Staging stereotypical yet humorous romantic scenarios, Liao blurs the lines that distinguish lived experience from performance.

Matthew Morroco’s work examines the tension between sexuality and intimacy while engaging with themes of history, sexuality and isolation. His self-portraits employ the elongated and elegant poses of history painting in order to link sexuality, aging, and the history of portrait.

Paul Sepuya's photographic practice is hosted at his studio where he often portrays young men, particularly his friends and acquaintances. Through his series of studies, Sepuya collapses the space between the subject and photographer. The studio acts as an essential space for editing where the artist works with both primary materials and re-photographed images, both of which define and document his practice.

Luke Smithers embraces the interplay of fiction and reality in his self-portraits. His practice of self-documentation investigates how the presence of a camera asks one to perform in various environments under different characters. In the series Rules of Desire, Smithers juxtaposes the expectation of hypermasculinity with an unexpected refusal of stereotypical norms.