Karen Navarro: El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos
It was a pleasure to meet Karen Navarro at the recent Photolucida portfolio reviews. Her work was a colorful explosion of reconsidered portraiture, using materiality and performance to create constructions that speak to the plethora of imagery we are exposed to on social media. Her conceptual approach to selecting subjects for the project came from a an open call on Instagram where she asked people to wear a particular color of clothing. Karen’s work examines online self-representation, expression, and the desire to connect to one another, presented a collaged portraits of strangers.
With a background in fashion design, Argentina-born artist, Karen Navarro, works with a highly stylized aesthetic on a diverse array of mediums that includes photography, collage, and sculpture. Her constructed portraits, as she describes it herself, are known for the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details. Navarro’s work expresses self-referential questions that connect in a much larger scale to ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies’ canons when these are in fact misleading. Similarly, Navarro explores in her work femininity as a cultural construct.
Navarro lives in Houston since 2014 where she completed the certificate program in photography at Houston Center for Photography. In 2018. Navarro has been awarded a scholarship at Glassell School of Art l The Museum of Fine Art Houston where she studied analog photography. Most recently she has received the Artadia fellowship 2019.
Navarro’s work has been exhibited in the US and abroad. Her most recent shows include Elisabet Ney Museum Austin, TX (2019), Lawndale Art Center, TX (2019), Presa House Gallery, San Antonio, TX (2019), Melkweg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2019), Museo de la Reconquista, Tigre, Argentina (2018), and Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX (2018).
El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos (Belonging in Modern Times)
Constructing new identities on social media. A distorted image of ourselves.
El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos (Belonging in Modern Times) explores the online self-representation used as a venue to create a sense of belongingness. Humans are innately driven to attain a sense of belonging. Just like water or shelter the sense of belonging is a human need. In modern times, as this phenomenon has transcended from the physical to the digital, social media platforms function as sites to congregate and connect.
Every day, an average of 93 million selfies are being taken all over the world with many of them being posted online. In El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos (Belonging in Modern Times) (2019), I use Instagram to explore the ways in which people use social media as a platform to project an assimilated version of themselves.
Inspired by cubism and the representation of the subject through the investigation of materiality and collages, I have reassembled the portraits depicting a distorted image that speaks about the constructed identities we perform on social media. The individuals photographed were selected by an open call on Instagram and were asked to wear a specific color clothing. The use of a specific color and the way they are all posed, are a way to equalize the individuals in each group. Using technologies of today such as 3-D printing and laser cutting was essential in my process of addressing contemporary media. The photographs were embossed with the top hundred hashtags on Instagram.
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