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Beth Collar and Lukas Schmenger at Lady Helen, London

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Notes towards a Perception of Portrait

In 2007 Helen Mirren won an Oscar for her impersonation of Queen Elizabeth II. In her acceptance speech she paid tribute to the monarch. “For more than 50 years”, Mirren said, “she has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty, and her hairstyle.” The profile portrait of Elizabeth on British coins and postage stamps has been cautiously updated four times during her reign, but its essential features— including that hairdo, perfectly styled to work with a crown or a hat—remain a timeless embodiment of courage and consistency.

The profile portraits on stamps, coins and medals are conventionally associated with authority. Forward looking, self-contained. A tribute. Embossed for eternity. No gaze revealed. Analytical rather than psychological. An excessively circulated and multiplied portrait of our time is the selfie, commonly a front view. Ephemeral and inconsistent these self-portraits smoothen and adjust our faces using filters, vignettes and other applications. We are also invited to wear a crown, a hat, bunny ears or a flag face. Cute? A colourful variety of simulated masks. Fun games that strip us of our flaws and eventually our individuality. A risk we are happy to take.

In the awkward search for a self(-portrait), digging through layers of matter. Adding. Taking away. Confronted with unflattering versions of selves and others. An itchy feeling of inadequacy and intimacy. Templates of gender, social status and other determinations roll by one after another, filed. Each one of them an offer and a dictate. Stumbling over inverted apostrophes and logs. Is there any space for screamish grimaces and frazzled, knackered women?

— Josefine Reisch


Lady Helen

'Old Sun, New Sun', Group Show Curated by Andrew Sung Taek Ingersoll at Et al., S

'The Houses Of The Serpent Bearer. The 9th House' by Mónica Mays & Flora Yin-Wong

'Dream Archipelago', Group Show Curated by Sergey Guskov at Smena, Kazan

'Eternal Flame', Group Show at Shore, Vienna

'Cosmovisions', Group Show at Medusa Offspace, Brussels

'No Time To Explain' by Paul Robas at Solito, Naples

'Night Rider' by Yan Posadsky at Devyatnadtsat’, Moscow

'Funding Emotions' by Magnus Frederik Clausen and Kaare Ruud at Cantina, Aarhus

'What I felt for you was love', Group Show at Afternoon Projects, Vancouver

'Mirror Stage' by Bora Akinciturk and Ella Fleck at Shipton, London

‘Millions Now Living Will Never Die!’ by Ian Swanson at Plague Space, Krasnodar

'VEGAN' by Jack Jubb at house of spouse, Vienna

'Fresh Hell' by Jonah Pontzer at Rose Easton, London

'It's quite like Guggenheim', Group Show at Ringcenter 1, Berlin

'OUTER DARKNESS', Off-Site Project by Allyson Packer in 1698 GALISTEO, SANTA FE

'mareas' by Elizabeth Burmann at Galeria Patricia Ready, Santiago

'Vape Cloud Premonition' by Sam Hutchinson at Forth, Nottingham

'Punch-Drunk' by Yutaro Ishikawa at LAID BUG, Tokyo

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