Performing Likeness

Eleana Antonaki, Jeremy Bailey, Alma Haser,
Letitia Huckaby, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, James Quin

Exhibition tour with Eleana Antonaki, Saturday, October 24, 2 pm
Performance Lecture with Jeremy Bailey, Thursday, November 5, 7 pm
Artist Talk by Letitia Huckaby, Wednesday, November 11, 7 pm

Exhibition on view through December 19, 2015

Traditionally the main function of portraiture was to produce a likeness of the sitter. But today, at the heart of current facial politics sits a complex interrogation of beauty, memory, surveillance, augmentation and display. The artists in this group exhibition engage with and yet resist conventional codes of portraiture to offer a fresh look at the representation of people in the digital age. By subverting the pageantry of vanity that is a contemporary life lived in social media, the artists question the role and relevance of portraiture in the 21st century.

How do portraits perform in the process of creating our identity? Is likeness enough anymore, or has the performance involved in posing for a portrait superseded its memorial functions? Does the portrait merely exist as a receipt of experience? Several works in the exhibition act as a type of anti-portrait or critical riposte to the ephemeral nature of self-aware digital portraits and selfies.

Painter Eleana Antonaki approaches themes in portraiture and representation of the body through a study of historic medical and scientific imagery. In her large canvas She didn’t know she wasn’t flawless (2014), cosmetics mogul Max Factor is seen using a "beauty micrometer” on a female test subject. The scrutiny of the device, invented by Factor in the 1930s to locate flaws on the female skin that cannot be seen by the naked eye, reflects a continued cultural obsession with facial beauty and physical perfection in the Photoshop era.

Eleana Antonaki, She didn't know she wasn't flawless, 2014

Self-coined “Famous New Media Artist” Jeremy Bailey explores the relationship between contemporary technology and the body. Using augmented reality, customized software and video to objectify and playfully critique his own body, Bailey creates self-portraits that blur the lines between the roles of patron, performer, protagonist and author.

Play is also apparent in the work of photographer Alma Haser whose Cosmic Surgery portrait series relies on the handiwork of origami. Sitters’ faces are broken down into geometric planes and then reconstituted as new photographic subjects, resulting in a game
of dimensional peek-a-boo.

Alma Haser, Cassie, 2012-13

Letitia Huckaby is an artist who uses photography, fabric and traditional sewing methods such as quilting to create portraits that suggest a personal collage of identity, history and memory. For Huckaby, such photographic works - - like East Feliciana Alter Piece (2010), a composite portrait of her 93-year old Grandmother - - are a poetic conversation about materiality and methods of documentation and display.

Letitia Huckaby, East Feliciana Alter Piece, 2010

In a new work that he has made available through open-source software, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer draws attention to the mass kidnapping of 43 male students who disappeared from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Iguala, Mexico on September 26, 2014. Level of Confidence uses facial-recognition and a system of algorithms to search an identity database of the students in a (fruitless) attempt to match gallery visitors’ faces to the disappeared.

Painter James Quin sees portraiture as a continuous challenge to the ubiquity of self-image and portrait representation in digital culture. For Repetition (2010), an installation of 300 drawings depicting the back of a woman’s head, Quin repeated an initial drawing from memory, over and over again.

James Quin, Missing, 2009


Please note Fort Worth Contemporary Arts will be closed for Thanksgiving Break beginning Monday, November 23rd and will reopen December 2nd.

Fort Worth Contemporary Artsis located at 2900 W. Berry St. on the edge of the TCU Campus, Fort Worth, TX 76109. Gallery Hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 12 – 5 pm,
and by appointment. Admission is free.

For more information about this exhibition, images for press, or details about other activities of the Art Galleries at TCU, please contact Sara-Jayne Parsons, Curator,, 817-257-2707, or Devon Nowlin, Gallery Manager,, 817-257-2588.