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Indepth Arts News:

"Staging: Janieta Eyre, Julie Moos, Zwelethu Mthethwa"
2002-02-22 until 2002-05-04
Contemporary Art Museum
St. Louis, MO, USA

As the inaugural exhibition of 2002, the Contemporary will open Staging: Janieta Eyre, Julie Moos, Zwelethu Mthethwa, an exhibit that considers various techniques of staging in contemporary photography. The exhibition, organized as three solo exhibits, presents the work of Janieta Eyre, Julie Moos and Zwelethu Mthethewa and revisits staging techniques established by previous generations of photographers, said Shannon Fitzgerald, assistant curator, the Contemporary. Unlike previous photographers and artists, Eyre, Moos and Mthethewa each present works with inventive twists and a unique freshness that address important issues surrounding contemporary portraiture.

In her exhibit, Eyre photographs herself, as a surrogate, dressed in elaborate costumes set within fantastical rooms, which suggest scenarios that do not exist in real time. Incorporating complex literary references, art historical symbolism and highly self-referential language, Eyre's self-portraits are about possibilities, while simultaneously placing her in a surreal past, an autobiographical present and an unimaginable tomorrow.

Moos addresses the complexities of human relationships, particularly through the presentation and recognition of individuals who form our larger societal structures like schools, churches and corporations. As a Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis artist-in-residence, Moos photographed St. Louis regional farmers working with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's), biogenetic engineered farming seed engineered by Monsanto. Interested in the human factor of this controversial science, Moos has not focused on the lab or the testing but on presenting the contemporary American farmer with his or her families and the relationship among generations.

Mthethwa, known world wide for his powerful images of residents living in informal squatter camps in Western Cape, South Africa, presents a series of photographs of women posed in their modest but colorful homes. His subjects are depicted in their homes among personal objects and home decorations and become props that serve as character signifiers thus becoming active participants in the staging of their own image.

This exhibit allows us to identify and discuss a young generation of artist's interest in staged portraitures in contemporary photography and aesthetic, cultural, social and political significance of the artist's portrayal, said Betsy Millard, director, the Contemporary. The unique aspect of this exhibit is illustrated by each of the artists individual approach to the subject of photographic staging in portraiture.

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, founded in 1981 as the First Street Forum, is a leading institution for contemporary art exhibitions in an innovative environment with community partnerships, education programs and outreach. Offering six to eight critically acclaimed exhibitions each year, the Contemporary presents the work of artists who are at the forefront of the regional, national and international art scene.

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