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Inside Out: Self

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TEN YEARS, 2013, Self Portraits by Katrina Umber made 2002 through 2012. See more here.

This quote by Trinh T. Minh-ha has been with me since undergrad:

"There will be much less arrogance, much less it-goes-wihout-saying assumtion, much less taken-for-granted dominance of the first-world-third-world/man-woman relationships, if the making subject is always vulnerably exposed in his or her making process."

What are the limits, possibilities and fruits of 'the making subject' being 'vulnerably exposed in his or her making process'? Through my different bodies of work I continue to explore a fundamental ontological question: In what ways is it possible to access the experience and emotions of other beings, if at all?

These thoughtful and fearless artists (and many others) inspire me and contribute to this discourse:


Taken with my iphone at LaToya Ruby Frazier's bold and thoughtful exhibition A Haunted Capital currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum through August 11th.


Self-portraits from the 1980s in Umber's copy of Mark Morrisroe.

More recently, Leigh Ledare in an interview in Kaleidescope beautifully articulated this endeavor:

"The more important question is why use myself in the work? The subjective "I" demands a kind of responsibility,, states a politics. It activates the subject’s relational structures: mother/son, husband/ wife/ex-husband, john/prostitute, etc… On the other hand, it’s a way into a certain psychological subject matter, which I felt was impossible to access in depth unless I implicated myself. Doing so allowed me to go in and return with an object that traces the unspoken intelligence of these relationships. As photographs, these objects are anxious, conflicted. They carry stakes that place tension on the subject. Because of this, they’re able to produce critical discussion around representation, ethics, authorship, agency, and the role of the artist in all of this."


Leigh Ledare's Double Bind, 2010 in Umber's copy of How Soon Is Now?

... and the incomparable Hannah Wilke


Super-t-Art, 1974 and Intra-Venus, 1992 from Umber's copy of Hannah Wilke.

Then, there's the magic of coming upon work that has an uncanny relationship with work you are making such as when I discovered Claude Cahun and Francesca Woodman when I was twenty.


Katrina Umber, Self-portrait, 1999


Claude Cahun, Que me veux-tu?, 1928 from Umber's copy of Mirror Images: Women, Surrealism, and Self-representation

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Katrina Umber is BR&S artist in residence for June 2013.

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