Martine Gutierrez is a transdisciplinary artist whose practice includes photography, performance, music, and film. Her work explores the multiplicity of identity by creating pop-influenced narrative scenes that question conventional expressions of gender and beauty. A Berkeley native now based in Brooklyn, Gutierrez has attracted significant attention for her work. Often using herself as a model, Gutierrez acts as both subject and creator, transforming the language of fashion, advertising, and cinema with humor and imagination to ask what it means to be a woman.
In the early photographic series Real Dolls, from 2013, Gutierrez takes on the role of life-sized sex dolls. Posing in domestic interiors with blank stares and stiffly held limbs, the personas reflect the imagined desires of each doll’s owner. In the series that followed, Girl Friends, and Line Up, Gutierrez began using mannequins, interacting with them to build complex social scenarios. In the semi-autobiographical video Martine, Parts I-IX, hypnotic episodes filmed in Providence, New York, Central America, and the Caribbean explore personal transformation through the lens of gender.
In 2019, photographs from her series Indigenous Woman were featured in the Venice Biennale. The project was produced as a 124-page magazine for which Gutierrez acted as muse, model, photographer, stylist, editor, and art director. Gutierrez recounts, “No one was going to put me on the cover of a Paris fashion magazine, so I thought, I’m gonna make my own.” Across the publication, Gutierrez carves out a place for herself, trying on fluid identities that touch on race, class, gender, and sexuality. In the magazine’s letter from the editor, Gutierrez describes the project as a celebration of “ever-evolving self-image” and a “practice of full autonomy.” As she writes, “This is a quest for identity. Of my own specifically, yes, but by digging my pretty, painted nails deeply into the dirt of my own image I am also probing the depths for some understanding of identity as a social construction.”
Selections from Gutierrez’s series ANTI-ICON: APOKALYPSIS recently debuted in concurrent exhibitions at Fraenkel Gallery, RYAN LEE Gallery, New York, and Josh Lilley, London. The full series will be featured in a traveling museum show organized by Polygon Gallery, Vancouver, slated for 2024. Originally commissioned by the Public Art Fund in 2021, the images were adapted to be shown on bus shelters throughout New York, Chicago, and Boston. In 2022, the Whitney Museum of American Art installed Supremacy, a billboard featuring an image of the artist surrounded by blonde Barbie-like dolls.
Her work has been featured in solo museum exhibitions at the Australian Centre for Photography, Darlinghurst, New South Wales; Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston, Houston, TX; Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, NC; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; and the Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY, among others. Her work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX; Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, among others.