ARTIST SERIES

Chuck Samuels writes:

“With On Photography, I focus my attention on the figure and the words of the critic. Borrowing its title from Susan Sontag’s seminal collection of essays from 1977, this series is a collection of quintessential quotes by iconic critics accompanied by altered historical portraits originally made by established photographers. By occupying the portraits, I have ‘become’ 30 critics and, in so doing, twisted the meaning of their quotations to both illuminate and give substance to my own work.

On Photography exploits the decontextualized words of the various critics to construct my own manifesto—one that both justifies my approach and suggests that, if an extract of a critic’s writing can be so easily co-opted, we must reconsider the authority of the quote in the absence of context. In the 30 prints of On Photography, my persistent presence in each of the pieces helps to untether the distinctiveness of each ‘original’ portrait, thus inviting the viewer to reflect upon the power of the critic and his/her words and, consequently, on the nature and authority of photography itself. A nine-minute video, featuring audio recording of many of the critics, their voices slipping in and out of synch with the characters depicted in the video, further explores the use and malleability of the quotation.”

On Photography was supported by a Research and Creation Grant awarded by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the series was produced in the framework of a Custom Residency Project at L’imprimerie centre d’artistes. The artist is grateful for the support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and L’imprimerie.

Work by Chuck Samuels