BAF presents Intimacy Is by photo-based-installation artist, Karice Mitchell. Known for works that rephotograph, scan, enlarge, crop, or otherwise manipulate found imagery, Mitchell’s practice considers issues surrounding the representation of the Black femme body. Through various modes of abstraction, she endeavours to give agency to her photographic subjects while disrupting the white gaze. The exhibition features a suite of new works created during the artist’s summer residency at BAF, and sees her venture, for the first time, in front of the camera, scanning her own body.
Collectively titled, the works are each portrait orientation and encompass two material approaches. 15 densely pigmented prints hang in elegant rows, secured to the east and west walls with finishing nails. The reverse of each sheet is deep black, perceivable when the bottom edges lightly curl. On the south wall—and unabashedly above the adjacent exit door—are vinyl prints in greatly varied sizes, adhered directly to the drywall. The underlying, faintly stippled surface of the wall softly interferes and blends with the close-up views of hair and skin.
Images that include glimpses of the artist are presented alongside others created from the pages of Players Magazine, a Black-centric, softcore pornographic periodical published from 1973 to 2005. In recent years, Mitchell has engaged this source material with increasing reverence, poring over her growing collection of vintage issues with the cautious touch of an archivist. The works articulate a care for their content through a selective revealing. Mitchell filters and redirects the gaze, limiting access and prioritizing the glitches inherent in the scanner process. She follows the magazine’s stylistic cues, using her body to negotiate and sit with the tensions and concerns around the autonomy of each model. Weaving new and found imagery, she conflates notions of subject and object, of passive and active, allowing the works to command and to respond.