Portrait from Casting Call, 2010
Pigment print. 11x17 in. (27.9 x 43.2 cm)
LACMA; purchased with funds from the Ralph M. Parsons Fund; © Charlie White
Starting today, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art brings together the compelling portraiture of Katy Grannan and Charlie White, two California-based artists who have investigated the culture of the American West through their work. Each photographer has explored the notion of an individual's presentation of self and how this is viewed by the public.
In her series “Boulevard,” Grannan puts a sun-cast spotlight on people in the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles—emphasizing the human condition on stark bright white stucco backgrounds. While many of her subjects would perhaps blend in if seen on the street among crowds, when photographed alone, each person takes on a unique individuality, even though they remain anonymous.
White has focused his attention on the relationship between today's youth culture and the contemporary notion of manufactured celebrity. For his “Casting Call” project, he plucked teenage girls from a typical casting call for a “California Girl” to pose in front of a gridded backdrop. While all of the girls have slight variation in their looks, the series is quite homogenous: all are Caucasian and blonde.
When shown together, the bodies of work create an astounding juxtaposition which offers the viewer an unhindered look at our own self-projections, and explores the ways in which we might even objectify others through our way of seeing. The exhibition includes nearly seventy-five photographs of the artists' work, as well as a three-channel video installation by Grannan, “The Believers,” and a video animation by White, “The Life in B Tween”.
“The Sun and Other Stars: Katy Grannan and Charlie White” is on view at LACMA July 22 through October 14.