On Stasis and Duration in Contemporary Video Portraits
What happens when the idea of the photographic portrait gets reconstituted elsewhere, for example, in ways that repeat yet re-imagine the logic of Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests and Agnès Varda’s Daguerreotypes, but in video art? What happens when we are brought face to face with an opening, of the category of the photographic portrait, indeed, of the photographic object? What are the implications of video work that mines and mimes the conventions of photographic portraiture to produce static, durational encounters with stillness in a medium that is anything but? Such projects may once and for all release the photographic portrait from its quest to fix its fugitive subject, and, do so in ways that have important implications for the history and future of the medium. Leaving behind notions of truth, touch and trace so critical to each of the preceding chapters to focus instead on the concept of time, the chapter concludes with an extensive analysis of the work of Gillian Wearing, whose negotiation of subjectivity and surrogacy, trauma and temporality finds its most forceful expression in her pieces involving the durational video portrait, a format that she shares with, among others, Thomas Struth and Tacita Dean.
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