Face Control
© Tina Hage. From the 'Gestalt' series (#026, #025 y #007), 2012. Courtesy Thomas Rehbein Gallery and Tina Hage

Face Control

December 3, 2021 - March 20, 2022

Foto Colectania presents a collective exhibition that brings together more than 20 artists, both established and emerging, whose works spin around the bidirectional control that relapses on the face: on the one hand, that which each person exercises over the way he wants his face to be perceived, and on the other, the way the forces of power try to exert over our identity.

Curated by Urs Stahel, the exhibition proposes a critical and provocative reflection on the social, political and cultural consequences derived from this control.

The exhibition brings together different approaches to the subject, from the work of renowned artists such as Diane Arbus, Thomas Ruff or Richard Hamilton, to the new creative practices resulting from the intersection with new technologies, such as those of Trevor Paglen, The Late Estate Broomberg & Chanarin or Shu Lea Cheang, through those of emerging artists, and proposals taken directly from the internet and social networks.

© Shu Lea Cheang, Tracked, a self-portrait. 3D avatar and facial tracking, 2019.
© Shu Lea Cheang, Tracked, a self-portrait. 3D avatar and facial tracking, 2019.

The history of the face begins with the Stone Age masks and ends with the faces produced by modern media. In his book Faces: A history of the face, the famous art historian Hans Belting discovered in theater masks, actors' facial expressions, portraiture, photography, film and contemporary art, multiple attempts to get hold of the face. And in doing so he demonstrated, simultaneously, the permanent failure to represent the life of the face and the self.

Although life is ultimately unrepresentable, it remains resistant to all the rules and clichés, making its way into the image over and over again, especially through the face. This condition has increased dramatically in recent years.

The exhibition Face Control wants to face this situation along two lines: the first, through the growing control of the face from the outside, the perpetual attempts to gain political or economic control over people through measurement, recognition and registration of faces by systems such as Artificial Intelligence. The second, through control of the face from within: driven by representations on social networks, we want to achieve as complete control as possible over how we appear in the photographic or videographic portrait. To do this, we are willing to do almost anything to radically optimize our faces. Even if, in the end, we may appear the same to others.

© Daniele Buetti. Are You talking to Me? - L.P., 2019.
© Daniele Buetti. Are You talking to Me? - L.P., 2019.

List of participants

The exhibition includes books by Giambattista della Porta, Johann Caspar Lavater, Duchenne de Boulogne, Alphonse Bertillon, Francis Galton and Léopold Szondi, materials such as the Kodak Shirley Cards, the Vogue Average Cover Photographs, a set of Mugshots, as well as photographs and videos of the following artists:

Diane Arbus, James Bantone, The Late Estate Broomberg & Chanarin, Daniele Buetti, Shu Lea Cheang, Paolo Cirio, Eli Cortiñas, JH Engström, Adam Ferriss, Tina Hage, Richard Hamilton, Alma Haser, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Roni Horn, Tommy Kha , Fabiola Larios, Eva O'Leary, Maria Mavropoulou, Simone C. Niquille, Trevor Paglen, Willem Popelier, Thomas Ruff, and John Yuyi.

About Urs Stahel

Swiss freelance writer, curator and consultant. Curator of MAST –Manifattura di Arti, Sperimentazione e Tecnologia– in Bologna, he is an advisor to the MAST collection of industrial photography. He is also an advisor to the Foto Colectania Foundation in Barcelona, ​​and to the Vontobel Art Collection, Zürich. He is co-founder of the Fotomuseum Winterthur and was its director and curator from 1993 to 2013. He lives and works in Zurich.

With the collaboration of:

Buy your online tickets HERE (partnership with La Vanguardia)