Susan A. Barnett, a New York based photographer, will be showing 25 portraits from her series “Not In Your Face” for the first time in a commercial gallery at the DeSantos Gallery in Houston, Texas. Her work explores the boundaries between Fine Art and Documentary Photography with her typology based on the t-shirt as seen on the streets of the United States.
In the series “Not In Your Face” the t-shirt is starkly evident but these photographs are not about the t-shirt per se. They are about identity, validation and perception.
This series is called “Not in Your Face” because the portraits are taken of the back of the individual and don’t show his or her face. These are “anonymous portraits” challenging the conventions of what we have come to know as portraiture.
Not that anonymous, however, because these portraits reveal the iconography that explore the cultural, political and social issues that have an impact on our everyday lives. The t-shirt and its message “perform a function of identifying an individual’s social location instantly.”
In these photographs we witness a chronicle of American subcultures and vernaculars which illustrate the current American identity. These photographs demonstrate how these individuals wear a kind of badge of honor or trophy that says “I belong to this group not the other” and these photographs place those individuals in the places and circumstances of our daily life.
Each one of these people reveal a part of themselves that advertises their hopes, ideals, likes, dislikes, political views, and personal mantras. The t-shirt and its wearer speak to issues related to ideology, differences, and myth and to politics, race, gender and leisure.
We may feel we know more about these individuals than we really do. Here their individual mystery is preserved and the power of photography can celebrate our urge to unravel it.
This show will include three works that were recently acquired by the Library of Congress.