Above is Carol Sawyer's 'Last Known Photo

Scenes of selves

10 artists explore self-identity in Surrey Art Gallery exhibit; opening reception Sept. 15.

In the era of status updates, photo sharing websites, and profile pictures, one’s image and therefore one’s identity presented to the world is more important, changeable, and multi-dimensional than ever before. Surrey Art Gallery’s new group exhibition Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses features artworks by 10 artists in a wide variety of media – including drawing, painting, photography, and video – that explore the nature of self-identity at the beginning of the 21st century.

Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses launches on Sept. 15 at the Surrey Art Gallery with a talk by Vancouver-based exhibiting artist Carol Sawyer at 6:30 p.m. followed by an opening reception from 7:30-9:30 p.m. The exhibition continues to Dec. 16 – admission is by donation.

Portrayals of oneself have come a long way since Dürer and Rembrandt developed self-portraiture as an artistic genre in the 16th and 17th centuries. Contemporary artists have made self-portraiture – and representation of themselves as stand-ins for ‘the other’ – a vibrant centre of artmaking today. As new communication tools have led to identity becoming increasingly connected to complex and overlapping social networks, today’s artists are re-examining self-representation at the limits of self-portraiture. How artists see and represent themselves reveals much about how we perceive ourselves and others.

Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses includes Eryne Donahue’s translation of Facebook portraits into astronomical star charts using new biometric facial recognition technologies; Carrie Walker’s graphite drawing of every person named Carrie Walker she could find on the Internet; and Pushpamala N and Clare Arni’s photo-performances of female types from South Asian cinema, 19th century Indian painting, and the photography of westerners who have travelled to the Indian subcontinent.

The artists in this exhibition are Jim Andrews, Eryne Donahue, David Horvitz, Roselina Hung, Suzy Lake, Elizabeth Milton, Pushpamala N and Clare Arni, Carol Sawyer and Carrie Walker.

Surrey Art Gallery is presenting two other exhibitions on the theme of self-representation. Echoes of the Artist: Works from the Permanent Collection explores images in which artists creatively incorporate representations of themselves or aspects of their lives. The artists are Alberta Browne, Diana Burgoyne, Barbara Cole, Janieta Eyre, Marianne Forsythe, George Littlechild, Al McWilliams, David Neel, Al Neil, Joseph Plaskett, Drew Shaffer, Henry Tsang, and Jin-me Yoon. Mirror Mirror is a juried exhibition organized by the Arts Council of Surrey of 30 self-portraits by emerging and established local artists.

These exhibitions are concurrent with Hati, a new sound installation by Debashis Sinha that can be experienced from Oct. 20 to Jan. 21 as part of Open Sound 2012: On Air, Underground—Making the Inaudible Audible, guest curated by Ross Birdwise.

Surrey Art Gallery is located at 13750 88 Ave. Call 604-501-5566 or check www.surrey.ca/arts for more information.