Excessive Exposure is Lyle Ashton Harris’ most recent monograph. Wednesday night he was joined by Chuck Close in discussing the book and the project that lead to The Complete Chocolate Portraits on the second floor of The New York Public Library. I arrived on time to standing room only! As luck would have it both myself and NYU student Christina Thomopoulos were fortunate enough to snag two previously reserved, unclaimed seats in the front row. The event commenced with a lovely introduction and jovial banter between Chuck and Lyle. They discussed the visual aspect of portraiture and its formal vs. informal aspects. The monograph features images of both the front and back of subjects heads. Portraiture has been in practice for decades and in one noteworthy reference, Lyle mentioned being influenced by the historical practice of photographing slaves from behind in order to make a record of his or her markings. In photographing the back, you are negating identity but also bringing attention to the nuances of other details such as hair texture and the physicality of body markings.

Chuck Close has photographed and painted Lyle. Lyle has photographed Chuck. They discussed the process of large format Polaroid and also plate photography. How in both processes imperfections or rather perfections to some, are brought to the surface. The process is just as much about the photographer as it is about the sitter and the amount of vulnerability captured. Excessive Exposure is well….just that; A delightful mix of recognizable celebrity faces, family members and notable figures within the art world who have come together to sit and be still. For within the process of sitting and sharing, images were made, vulnerabilities exposed and identifying marks revealed. The constant of Chocolate is both in the pigment of the sepia print and the sweetness, a click, in the fingertips of a photographer.

Lyle Ashton Harris: Excessive Exposure
The Complete Chocolate Portraits
Text by Okwui Enwezor. Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Interview with Chuck Close.
Is published by Gregory R. Miller & Co.

More soon.
— Posted from my iPhone