Portrait of an Archive: Selections from the Architecture & Design Collection
October 17, 2007 - May 16, 2008
Portrait of an Archive highlights the work of ten designers who have helped to alter the face of twentieth-century California. Including personal portraits and professional materials, the exhibition presents a range of items from designs for prefabricated housing to roadside service stations. The artifacts are all drawn from the University Art Museum’s Architecture & Design Collection (ADC), the leading design archives in Southern California. Just as the ADC explores the diversity of the built environment through its historic collections, Portrait of an Archive provide insights into the impact that technology, consumption, and fantasy have played in shaping our contemporary landscape. Mirroring the rich variety of the ADC’s holdings, Portrait of an Archive features original drawings, photographs, models, furniture, and video footage work by noted designers Gregory Ain (1908-1988), Albert Frey (1903-1998), Edward A. Killingsworth (1917-2004), Paul Lászlò (1900-1993), Cliff May (1908-1989), Lutah Maria Riggs (1896-1984), R.M. Schindler (1887-1953), Whitney R. Smith (1911-2002), Robert B. Stacy-Judd (1884-1975), and Kem Weber (1889-1963). First Person gathers a selection of contemporary art objects which take the identity of artist as their subject. While portraits often use mimesis to represent the sitter, these objects employ language, abstraction, and symbolism to convey identity and include video, drawings, and photographs. John Coplans dissects his naked body through a series of sequential black-and-white images, revealing many parts and much detail, but hot his face and eyes. At a glance, Gillian Wearing’s photographs appear as conventional family portraits; yet it is the artist posing as her grandparents (see images below).
Elaborate makeup and exacting clothing challenge viewers to register the images’ true sitter. Other works, by Jonathan Borofsky and Jim Shaw draw their imagery from the subconscious world of dreams. Mona Hatoum and Glenn Ligon linguistically use the first person. A looping video seems to trap Hatoum in time, while Ligon effectively travels back in history through the guise of slave narratives. These varied approaches to self-representation assert the makers’ identities, even as they question objectivity. For more information please visit: The University Art Museum at the University of California Santa Barbara -Joanne Molina