Work of Art: Vantage Point
Lorna Simpson
born 1960
Vantage Point
Gelatin-silver prints, plastic plaques
Overall: 50 x 70 in. (127 x 177.8 cm)
Purchased with funds from the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Art Trust Fund
© 2012 Lorna Simpson

In Vantage Point Simpson juxtaposes her own verso portrait with that of a face mask, alluding to an African heritage without declaring it. She presents each image out of context: both are disembodied from the parts that complete them—the woman’s face and lower body lie outside our view; the mask is detached from the full masquerade ensemble that defines and activates its power.

This suggests the artist’s tenuous connection to the continent from which she is separated in time and space, and poses the question of how one does, or does not, have access to one’s individual life history. The simple terms inside and out frame the questions evoked by the juxtaposition: What is the relationship between public bodies and private selves, between heritage and lived experience? How are we complicit in constructing who, and what, we see?

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