Marilyn Minter, Rencontres d’Arles 2007
In 1969, the photographer Diane Arbus visited a class at the University of Florida in Gainesville and, as a guest instructor, led a critique of the students’ artwork. Marilyn Minter, an undergraduate at the time, was not enrolled in the class, but her professor encouraged her to bring in her proof sheets. Minter did not yet know who Arbus was, but her series of photographs, Coral Ridge Towers, was the only work that day that Arbus liked. It documented a week-end in the life of Honora Elizabeth Laskey Minter, a pill-popping recluse and the artist’s mother, a ragged ghost of a woman stubbornly clinging to, but inevitably failing at, Hollywood beauty standards. For Minter, these pictures were simply what home was like, but despite Arbus’s imprimatur, her classmates recoiled and she left the negatives unprinted for twenty-five years. In 1995, Minter finally decided to print the Coral Ridge Towers photographs. She picked up a camera and began making, for the first time in years, paintings based on her own photographs instead of mass-media sources, although her primary interest remained commercial depictions of femininity. Minter began exploiting the vocabulary of photography to investigate the extent to which it has reshaped our vision and to question the traditional distinctions made between artistic and popular media. The photographs serving both as sources for her photorealist paintings and as finished works in their own right. Her images echo an abstract, fragmented way of looking at the body that developed as a consequence of the medium’s mechanical characteristics – particularly framing and focal length -and that existed as early as the 1920s in the surrealist photography of Man Ray and Jacques-Andre Boiffard. This “morseling” is a familiar cliché from many different modes of photography, from Surrealism to pornography and advertising. Closing in tight on her subjects, whether it is a shoe, an eye or a mouth, Marilyn Minter subverts the glamour of desire. The images Minter generates always stand on the border of photorealism and abstraction: on focusing on details she continually shoots her photographs at the moment before the image breaks out of focus.
Excerpts from a text by Joshua Shirkey, 2006.
Exhibition organised in collaboration with Salon 94 gallery, New York.
Artiste proposée par Bice Curiger.
Exposition présentée à l’Atelier de Maintenance, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2007.