MADRID.- The exhibition 1000 Faces/0 Faces/1 Face. Cindy Sherman, Thomas Ruff, Frank Montero Collado unite two great contemporary artists who have dealt, in depth, with the complexities inherent in representing the subject, with Frank Montero, a complete stranger whose photos of the 19th and early 20th centuries are being shown for the first time.
The exhibition, under the thematic official section Interfaces: Portraiture and Communication of PHotoEspaña 2011, will be hosted at Sala Alcalá 31 of Comunidad de Madrid. Juxtaposing the images of the three artists, the exposition meditates on the intricate paths of identity, representation, and communication in art and contemporary society.
The work of Cindy Sherman (United States, 1954) constitutes a monumental investigation of identity and the powers of representation in a photographic programme that is acted out rather than staged. For decades she has developed the seemingly impossible project of transforming herself into other people, imitating their identities as subjects in her photographs.
Sherman is the woman of a thousand faces, the great appropriator of the faces and figures of others. She is not an imitator of real figures or of those taken from the cinema or the mass media. She imitates prevailing stereotypes and canons. Therefore, her figures or film scenes are simultaneously real and fictitious, detonating a referentiality that is as deceiving as it is authentic.
In the exposition are her series Bus Rides, Murder Mystery People, ABDE, and a selection from Untitled Film Stills in which her construction and representation of subjects are even more direct and concise.
For his part, in the series Portraits, Thomas Ruff (Germany, 1958) fully depersonalizes his subjects, using tools that equalize them in a repetitive way: absence of expression, fixed framing, plain lighting, neutral dress and backdrop...While in Shermans work there is often only a single person, herself, who acts out all the rest, in Ruff there are real people who appear as a mere repetition into infinity.
According to the artist, photography only shows the surface of things and the series denies the possibility of a portraits individual interiorisation. These works are undoubtedly a commentary on the identity photo so characteristic of this era of technological surveillance and verification, a time when there is no interest in the subjective nature of individuals, only in mere facial features that enable their identification for control purposes: faces as fingerprints. These are portraits that, contrary to what is expected of this genre, limit their moral, contextual and psychological content: anti-portraits characteristic of contemporary functionalist and police automation.
Frank Montero Collado
Together with these older and worldly artists are the humble photos of Frank Montero, a Mexican born in the middle of the 19th century, who posed for himself at various stages of his life, photographed with the attributes related to his jobs or circumstances, often dramatized and theatrical and perhaps even fabricat.
Montero Collado is not only an unknown in the artworld, where his work has never been shown before; he is also unknownt out court. In away as free as it was systematic, Montero staged himself in the various phases of his life, from childhood to old age, and had himself photographed with the attributes of his varied occupations or in diverse situations, which were often dramatised and possibly even invented. Thus he performed his own autobiography, perhaps with traces of fiction, in synthetic photographic images that include handwritten notes describing the posts, professions or conditions shown in each photo. Montero has left us an enigmatic record of his life based on his own self-representation. He was a surprising Sherman of himself.
In Sherman,we have one face that produces all faces; in Ruff, all the faces are multiplied by zero; in Montero, his own face plays itself in the innumerable faces of time and life changes