Peter Harris Self-Portraits by Proxy 3, 4, 6 & 7

24 June - 1 August 2009

Private View:
Wednesday 24 June, 6pm - 8pm

"All I can do is be me, whoever that is."
Bob Dylan

Mummery + Schnelle are pleased to present the latest installment of Peter Harris's extended project Self-Portraits by Proxy , begun in 1998. Harris's work plumbs what an artist is and has to be in order to survive. The materials he works from are those of mass culture - the mediated stuff of economies driven by fame and fortune, success, failure and anonymity. His collaborations function as a means of self-reflection on the status of the individual, the artist and the object as a hybridized cultural product. Increasingly, questions of identity in Harris's work and practice have been supplanted by the concept of staging the Self through actions performed. Instability here is exalted along with the perpetual mobility of the subject.

Starting as a series that used performance and collaboration to extend the possibilities of his painting practice and to map the influences in the formation of the artist's self, Harris has continued to expand the project in scope to explore a precarious mode of subjectivity characterized by multiple and shifting identifications shaped by our moment of culture and economy. The latest installment will comprise Self-Portraits by Proxy Nos. 3, 4, 6 & 7 - works in video and photography which bridge the decade from the project's inception.

Self-Portraits by Proxy No. 3 , 2002
Harris depicts himself playing the Rizla game in which a paper with a name on it is pasted on his forehead and he has to guess who he is by asking questions of his audience. Presenting a party game in a gallery context, Harris asks: is our sense of identity fixed, or is it something built upon our socio-cultural situation and the questions forced upon us?

Self-Portraits by Proxy No. 4 , 2002
Making those around him directly complicit in his work, in this video piece Harris re-voices everything that the art world 'experts' have ever written about him and his work.

Self-Portraits by Proxy No. 6, 2009
"There is a play with what is authentic and real. In a sense the video is a 'readymade' self . The snippets are twisted and taken out of their original context to tell Peter Harris's story. I am open and closed at the same time. The mask I'm wearing is inverted to both reveal and disguise what is beneath. The whole thing is a pose, but a real pose."
- P. H.

Self-Portraits by Proxy No. 7 , 2009
A companion piece to No. 4 , in this video Harris reads out all the comments written in his visitors' books and shows us what the 'the general public' thinks. By reading these words in a flat inexpressive manner the 'Peter Harris' spoken about becomes distanced from the 'Peter Harris' reading them. There is an enactment of indifference and the performances are 'unperformed'.

To complement Self-Portraits by Proxy, a group exhibition of 'self portraits' is presented in the gallery showroom. The works chosen will include historical items from the Portsea Collection where Peter Harris's Faith in Fakes show will be running concurrently, as well as work by contemporary artists including Philip Akkerman, Paul Housley, Adam Dant, Jasper Joffe, Thomas Steinert, John Strutton and Gavin Turk.

Please click here for further information on the Portsea Collection.

After leaving Chelsea College of Art Peter Harris (b. 1967) co-founded the exhibition space Uncle Grey Presents with Charles Avery in 1996 and has since exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Lüneburg (2007), Andrew Mummery Gallery (1999, 2000, 2002) and group exhibitions at Laura Bartlett Gallery, London ( Building, Dwelling, Thinking , 2008), National Film Theatre, London ( Artists' films on Music Culture , 2004), Kettle's Yard Cambridge ( Face Off , 2002), Milton Keynes Gallery ( Air Guitar , 2002).

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I'd Laugh But There's
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Self-Portraits by Proxy
3, 4, 6 & 7

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