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Ben Durham

Artist Statement Submitted 2016

The question of who deserves our attention and what attentions are valued and facilitated by our culture is at the center of my ongoing inquiry into memory, portraiture, and crime. Official mugshots of childhood friends and classmates are the source material for much of my work and have guided my understanding of how images are used to direct our attention, shape our thinking, and facilitate our judgment. The Text Portrait series recreates the mugshot as large-scale drawings composed entirely of hand-written text, while other work expands my engagement with the mugshot to include the social and political functions of mapping and the powerful and lasting links of identity and place. By decontextualizing the mugshot, I strive to make portraits that are not a simplification or reduction of identity, but create an expansive and nuanced counter-history populated by those marked to be forgotten.

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