CCA Wattis, San Francisco

Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts / 360 Kansas Street
CA 94103-5130 San Francisco

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Running parallel with the Wattis Institute exhibition Likeness, this Capp Street Project, titled Before, During and After, continues the ongoing investigation of New York–based artist Carter into the problematic relationships between (self)identity and representation.

In an age when cosmetic surgery has become the subject of mainstream television shows such as Nip/Tuck and Extreme Makeover, Carter's project explores the extent to which such procedures—once seen as both exotic and transgressive—have become normalized. Juxtaposing collaged classified advertisements—offering body augmentation services such as liposuction, penile enlargement, laser hair removal, and Botox treatments—with his own drawings, Carter's project amplifies a general anxiety with regard to our bodies and self-image.

His featureless protagonists are reduced to a slippery graphic scheme of highly mannered hairstyles and moustaches, in which identity is simultaneously supressed and homogenized. An overdose of masculinity is introduced with hair appearing in excess on both male and female figures, creating, in Carter's words, a "gay space in a seemingly straight advertising environment."

Evocative of the work of artists such as Pierre Klossowski, Claude Cahun, Pierre Molinier, Andy Warhol, Tom of Finland, and Francesco Vezzoli, Carter explores the conflicting mechanics of both vanity and desire, ultimately privileging the instability and mutable nature of identity.

Justin Yockel writes, "Not until we acknowledge the complexity and multiplicity of Carter's images does a true self-portrait begin to emerge. No single one of his images is a self-portrait. Rather, it is a fleeting attempt to render an image of the self. Only grouped as records of fleeting moments do the images begin to register the complexity of self-identity."

Born in 1970 in Norwich, Connecticut, Carter graduated with an MFA from UC Davis in 1997. Recent exhibitions include Rebus, Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco (2004); Being There, Derek Eller Gallery, New York (2002); and Artist of the Month, Artists Space, New York (2001). A solo show of Carter's work will open at the Richard Dadd Gallery in St. Paul, Minnesota, in June 2004.

For further information about Carter's work, visit his website.

The Bulletin Board has been supported by a generous grant from Art for Art's Sake, New York. The Bulletin Board is a project space that is part of the ongoing exhibitions and public programs of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Each semester two artists/practitioners are invited to create new projects for the Bulletin Board.

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Before, During and After