In Poser Talia Chetrit takes her own archive as the subject of an exhibition. In this show she presents two rooms of staged photographs taken over a 23 year span as a contiguous body — portraits taken by Chetrit as a teenager of her friends, all aged 12-15 from 1994-1997, and three new self-portraits shot in 2017. In the first set of photographs we see crops of young girls’ faces, other girls in lackadaisical repose, two listlessly lying on a bed nude as well as more recent, provocative images Chetrit has taken of herself — donning only panty hose on her face or a plastic shirt, both in overly dramatized makeup. In a second set of photographs, Chetrit presents a series, also taken as a teenager in 1997, of a girl dressed in everyday clothes whom she has posed in various iterations of a violent murder scene.
The work is possible within scalar and temporal shifts of representation that call the very processes of image making into question — framing and reframing the failures of her subjects’ intentions, of pretense and of appearing. Her preoccupation with the memory of those early shoots gives impetus to this show as something beyond ‘autobiography’, however. At the time, she — newly behind the lens as an artist — and her friends were enacting their burgeoning agencies through each other, as peers, sharing in the spectacle of these photoshoots; this — opposed to her present experience, in which she uses these same images of the girls, then more than half age that she is now, along side images of her adult self — elicits a potently perverse anachronism. We see structures of power and dynamics of relations, prescience of our younger selves, all stripped bare and redressed by turns.
She has consistently, and by necessity, been concerned with the limits of the self-image and the implication of others in her practice. The forensic aspect of this work allows the artist to produce a double take on her own processes. The leaky, violent sophistication of the teen murder scenes alongside the almost clown level of makeup and ‘costuming’ –in both the images taken of her friends, and those she takes of herself–are leveled on a strange plane of equivalence. Like her previous shows, this work sits inside the unbounded intersections of staging and discovery, of human bodies, objects and meaning, which naturally emerge when photography is considered an act of performance — it’s through this process that Chetrit continually reappraises her role as a photographer and that of photography itself.
– Sahra Motalebi (Sies + Höke press release)