Los Angeles County Museum of Art opens The Sun and Other Stars. Katy Grannan and Charlie White

Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents The Sun and Other Stars. Katy Grannan and Charlie White, an exhibition on view through October 14, 2012, displaying the two photographers work in tandem.

Grannan and White both employ portraiture to examine the fragility and resilience of individuality in a culture that has become increasingly enthralled by media representations of the ideal self. Through nearly seventy-five photos, as well as White’s video animation and a three-channel video installation by Grannan, this exhibition examines the complexity of the human condition and of modern subjectivity in particular.

Charlie White, Portrait from Casting Call (Detail), 2010, Pigment Print, 11 x 17 in., LACMA, purchased with funds from the Ralph M. Parsons Fund, © Charlie White.

The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White is the latest in a string of photography exhibitions at LACMA this year, following Robert Adams: The Place We Live, A Retrospective Selection of Photographs; Fracture: Daido Moriyama; and Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol. Additional photography shows scheduled in 2012 include Michael Heizer: Actual Size and Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ–a small sampling of the thousands of Mapplethorpe photographs jointly acquired by LACMA, the Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute last year.

The exhibition presents Katy Grannan’s Boulevard series, featuring an array of adult subjects plucked from the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Starkly contrasting her subjects against the solarized white stucco walls of California’s urban streets, Grannan draws these idiosyncratic individuals out from anonymity with uncompromising detail. In the camera’s rigidly frontal perspective, the subjects’ wistful gazes evoke Nathanael West’s doleful vision of the Hollywood dream, highlighting the alienation that exists between reality, desire, and aspiration. The show also presents Grannan’s first foray into film, a three-channel black- and-white video entitled The Believers. The work functions as a stage on which her female subjects–Melissa J. Weiss, Nicole Strada, and Linda Martinez-rehearse their fragmented stories of ambition and self- fashioning. The boundaries between fact and fantasy are blurred when the documentary nature of The Believers’ mise-en-scène is choreographed into the artist’s imagined narratives.

While Grannan uses portraiture to glean individuality from obscurity, Charlie White explores the homogeneity of celebrity culture through a series of deadpan photographs depicting teen girls against a gridded backdrop. Based on a professional casting call in which Caucasian, blonde adolescents aged 13-16 were invited to embody the quintessential “California Girl,” White’s photographs allude to the tyrannical appetite for celebrity and the popular iconography of the American teen manufactured by the media.

In addition to 48 photos–40 from the 2010 Casting Call project, two from 2008, and three new diptychs pairing teen models with fabricated 2 doppelgangers–the exhibition features White’s personal collection of mass- culture ephemera and his new animation A Life in B Tween, which portrays the eagerness of contemporary youth culture to live life on camera.

Katy Grannan was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1969. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991, and her MFA from Yale University in 1999. Her publications include Model American (Aperture, 2005), The Westerns (Fraenkel Gallery and Salon 94, 2008), and Boulevard (Fraenkel Gallery and Salon 94, 2011). She lives in Berkeley, California.

Charlie White was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1972. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1995, and his MFA from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, in 1999. He is an associate professor in the Roski School of Fine Arts, University of Southern California. His publications include And Jeopardize the Integrity of the Hull (TDM Editions, 2003), Monsters (PowerHouse Books, 2007), and American Minor (JRP|Ringier, 2009). He lives in Los Angeles. – www.lacma.org

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