Candice Breitz, Profile, 2017
In Profile, Breitz is not present herself but instead platforms ten prominent South African artists in her place to speak directly to camera. Their collective appearance, in a green screen environment, implies a self-portrait through polyphony, a paradox of the portrait genre. ‘My name is Candice Breitz’, the cast say in turn, repeatedly while gazing intently at the camera/viewer. They each offer up descriptions of the identity formation of the collective presence; man or woman, white or black, working or middle class…. Veering energetically between descriptors of race, class and gender, occupation and national belonging, the veracity of the claims at times uncertain as the identity markers are frequently at odds with what we see on screen. This poses an ethical and philosophical question; who is here as a self and who is here as an other? While this work speaks explicitly to identity politics and its intersections of class, with a critical impulse toward a discussion of who speaks on behalf of whom and for whom, it also considers the genre of portraiture itself. Breitz’s dissection of this conscientiously conflates self-representation, biography and artist statement with their commercial, juridical and political counterparts of brand promotion, racial profiling, and political campaign. This has the effect of emphasising the intersectional aspect of identity with contemporary concerns and struggles of particular nation-states, and a global political dominance of capitalism that tends to capture and commoditize everything, including our social relations and identity itself. In the specific context of South Africa, this critique is particularly pointed. We might read some of the statements as allyship but we must also confront the possibility that would-be allies, whose very being is defined by historical privilege, may be further entrenching such privilege as they endeavour to align themselves with those who have been historically disadvantaged. This adds a layer of complexity that we encounter here in necessarily confrontational terms.
|Duration||Variation A: 2 minutes 20 seconds; Variation B: 3 minutes 27 seconds; Variation C: 3 minutes 21 seconds|
|Edition||of 25 + 2 APs|