Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to announce Martine Gutierrez: Half-Breed, a new exhibition of photographs. Acting as both subject and producer, Gutierrez explores the multiplicity and complexity of identity in a series of pop-influenced narrative scenes. The exhibition, which takes its name from Cher’s 1973 album, will include selections from three recent series, Body En Thrall, Plastics, and Indigenous Woman, the 124-page magazine for which Gutierrez acted as muse, model, photographer, and art director, creating every element from fashion spreads and ads to an editor’s letter. A Berkeley native now based in Brooklyn, this will be the artist’s inaugural show with Fraenkel Gallery.
Indigenous Woman presents images in the glossy, seductive style of fashion and advertising photography, reimagining the tropes of those genres with wit and nuance. In the project, which was shown at the 2019 Venice Biennale, Gutierrez carves out a place for herself, trying on fluid identities that touch on race, class, gender, and sexuality. As she has noted, “No one was going to put me on the cover of a Paris fashion magazine, so I thought, I’m gonna make my own.” The exhibition includes selections from Neo-Indeo, a fashion editorial in which Gutierrez wears Indigenous textiles, some of which belonged to her Mayan grandparents, paired with vintage and designer items in a personal, multicultural version of high fashion. In a 1960s-inspired ad, Identity Boots, Gutierrez poses nude except for shiny white go-go boots and brightly colored gender symbols and glyphs, crudely taped to her skin. In a series of portraits titled Demons, Gutierrez transforms herself into mythical women from ancient and indigenous cultures, adorned with sculptural hairstyles and extravagant jewelry. Together, the pages of Indigenous Woman present what Gutierrez has called a celebration of “ever-evolving self-image.”
In the series Body En Thrall, begun as an editorial for Indigenous Woman, the artist stages photographs using herself as a model, posing with mannequins in charged scenarios. In the selection on view, Gutierrez appears in the guise of a blonde persona she has referred to as “the bombshell,” and pictures provocative scenes that navigate questions about power, desire, and self-objectification.
In Plastics, Gutierrez pulls plastic wrap tightly over her face while wearing messy blonde wigs and contact lenses, holding her breath as she embodies a series of archetypes. The transparent film pushes her features and smears her makeup, creating portraits that speak to the violence and artifice inherent in mainstream ideals of beauty.