Leonard Nimoy: Secret Selves Photographs Exhibition at MASS MoCA

Artist/actor Leonard Nimoy exhibits his recent photographic series that explores the lost or hidden self, pen through Jan 2, 2011 at at MASS MoCA.

Inspired by Aristophanes’ theory that humans were once double-sided creatures with two heads and multiple limbs before Zeus cleaved man in two and left him forever struggling to be whole again, Nimoy’s photographs reveal his subjects’ other half. Shooting in nearby Northampton, Massachusetts, Nimoy recruited volunteers from the local community with an open call for portrait models willing to be photographed posed and dressed as their true or imagined “secret selves.” From the popular rock star and superman to the more unexpected dog lover and Pan, these various secret identities (off-line avatars as they might be described) offer an intimate, sometimes humorous, and often profound new look at the residents of Northampton and the inner yearnings and fantasies that we all share.

Accompanying the large, life-size photographs is a video documenting the artist’s conversations with his subjects and the poignant, personal moments he masterfully elicits from his unlikely muses.

Leonard Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts in1931. After serving in the army, Nimoy worked in feature films, television, and theater appearing in many of the well-known TV series of the period and several feature films. However, it was Nimoy’s enormous success as Mr. Spock in the science fiction television series, Star Trek, which gained him worldwide recognition. Throughout his life Nimoy has been engaged with photography as both student and practitioner. In the 1970s he studied under the influential photographer Robert Heinecken at UCLA. In 1973 Nimoy had his first show at a gallery. That same year his book of poems and photographs, You and I was published, and by 1977 he had recorded for the Dot Label and earned a Masters Degree in Education. In 2000 he was an artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome. In September of that year he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Antioch University for his work in Holocaust Remembrance, the Arts and the Environment. Nimoy and his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, have contributed toward a variety of causes including the renovation and expansion of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and the Thalia Theatre in New York City. A new lecture hall at the observatory, the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon, has been named in his honor and the theatre in New York is now named The Leonard Nimoy Thalia. Nimoy is the holder of four Honorary Doctorates and two Master’s degrees.

Image: Leonard Nimoy, MASS MoCA

Since opening in 1999, MASS MoCA has become one of the world’s premier centers for making and showing the best art of our time. With annual attendance of 120,000, it ranks among the most visited institutions in the United States dedicated to new art. More than 80 major new works of art and more than 50 performances have been created through fabrication and rehearsal residencies in North Adams, making MASS MoCA perhaps the most fertile site in the country for new art. The museum thrives on making and presenting work that is fresh, surprising, and challenging.


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