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Posts tagged “charles latham

charles latham: safe / unsafe

Charles Latham - philia / worst nightmare / the predator / 2013

Charles Latham – philia / worst nightmare / the predator / 2013

I’m honoured to announce the opening of an exhibition of Charles Latham’s recent photographic work, for which I was curator, at Landmark Arts in Lubbock, TX, as part of “Serial Experiments in Artist-Curated Micro Exhibitions“, organized by my friend and colleague Jason Derouin. Below is the curatorial statement for the exhibition:

Charles Latham: safe / unsafe

Curatorial Statement
Matt Sparling, February 2014

A friend once admitted to owning a mass collection of footage of marching bands on VHS tapes. Charles Latham would seem to collect nylon sportswear and restraining devices.

The reverence with which both collections were displayed, a particular order, a neatness, a location of purpose and inscrutable significance, suggests at rituals defined by two intentions; here the objects are held aloft, revered, enshrined, displayed with pride and admiration. They are also there placed to control, to contain and symbolically restrain something that, for the collector, exists as both ordinary and volatile at the same time, a thing so precariously linked to their identity that it simultaneously defines, keeps safe, and violently threatens their fundamental sense of self.

It is here that this border of the abject is demarcated, where the fetish object holds singular, unique power over its possessor and possessed.

Latham’s work would seem to seek to mediate this borderline for us, presenting these nylon windbreakers, vinyl records and restraining devices as neutral, displayed, arranged, collected, but also activated, worn, engaged, given life and identity and a sinister sense of hazard.

The ambiguous safety of these objects and their potential volatile nature is further complicated by the artist’s inclusion of self-portrait and self-history, a personal narrative that both renders vulnerable the artist himself, and attempts to pry at a sympathetic wound in his audience.

Latham therein sits enthroned, crowned with bull horns, garbed in royal emerald, flanked by the jewels and restraints of his station, surrounded by his court of sexually-charged anonymity, beings whose identity is obliterated by the very clothing and trappings that define them.

We, as viewers, find ourselves invited guests, invasive voyeurs, and sympathetic victims.

Far from lacking a sense of humour,  it is this laughing apocalypse of sorts that renders these works and their objects seemingly inert, safe,  and undoubtedly that much more dangerous.

The exhibition runs from Feb 10th to  Feb 23rd, 2014. More information is available here: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/ART/SOA/nav/landmark/exhibitsschedule/micro_exhibits/micro_exhibits.php

If you are anywhere near Texas during that period I encourage you to check out the exhibition, as well as the other shows int he series, Latham’s new work is as remarkable and challenging as it is beautiful and disturbing.


charles latham found!

Some of you might recall my brief article on Charles Latham, and his series Cyrus.

Well – Charles contacted me, and he has a new website! So please check out http://www.sofabeast.com/ and all it’s photographic and design goodness, there’s some fantastic work there.

Thanks again Charles!


charles latham (whatever happened to…)

Sometime last year I picked up Susan Bright’s Autofocus: The Self-portrait in Contemporary Photography, in which I discovered this series by Charles Latham, Cyrus (2006).

Charles Latham, Cyrus, 2006 (1)

Bright describes the creation of this series (three images total, click the “read more” link at the end to see the others), as occuring after Latham, in response to the break up of a relationship, posted photos of himself enacting self-harm online.  The heated response provoked Latham to find a more constructive means of investigating the source of this impulse, and this resulted in the creation of Cyrus, an imaginary friend. Latham projected onto Cyrus his insecurities, feelings of self-loathing, and anxieties as a means of personifying these aspects of himself with which he was struggling, essentially creating an abject Self.

I have yet to discern if within these photos Latham has posed himself as Cyrus, or whether he’s using a model, but Latham appears in the images as himself essentially as a mediator between Cyrus and his viewer.  This mediation elevates this series from simply being a confrontational piece – a simple portrait of Cyrus might be too forceful, and would lack the engaged consideration Latham demonstrates by posing alongside his imaginary friend. Latham essentially shows a portrait of a relationship, and by extension, a negotiation with these more volatile aspects of his psyche.

Describing Cyrus, Latham states:

Cyrus is a special needs case. He’s extremely impulsive, has a tendency to make the wrong decision and is prone to depression. He is extremely self-destructive. Typically he is someone in need of a lot of supervision and instruction. It’s the equivalent of having a new puppy… Cyrus makes an excellent minion because he’s sort of a workhorse. There isn’t much that he wouldn’t do for his owner, provided he is met with positive reinforcement, otherwise the system breaks down and he will no doubt start acting out. Things sometimes get broken. Things sometimes get bloody.”

There is a larger discussion on the self-portrait as abject here, as well as the role of the therapeutic impulse in art (recent undergraduate-graduating exhibitions have kinda provoked some extended thought on the issue), but I will leave that for another time.

All that being said – the point of this post was actually something of a side-track: I can’t seem to find any other work by Charles Latham, or really any reference to him apart from this entry in Susan Bright’s book. What ever happened to Charles Latham? Anyone know? It would be a shame if someone able to produce such a sophisticated, well-considered portrait series just dropped off the face of the planet thereafter.

Edit: Found this: http://neworleansphotoalliance.org/exhibitions.php?id=8

(click the ‘read more’ link below to see the rest of the series)

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