© 2020 Riva Lehrer. All rights reserved.

THE RISK PICTURES

 

In The Risk Pictures, my portrait collaborators and I experiment with the traditional relationship between artist and subject. This project is a consideration of what it means to be the object of toxic staring. People who live in stigmatized bodies are often made to feel ashamed, by the judgmental, aggressive public gaze often leveled in their direction.  

 

This series comprises a refutation of the traditional relationship between artist and subject. Sitting for a portrait is a vulnerable experience, during which the subject agrees to be stared at for hours at a time. The traditional dynamic of portraiture infers that the artist, as examiner, wields more power than the subject. Conversely, if the portrait is a commission, the subject holds the economic power. It's rarely an equal dynamic. (That said, few of my portraits are commissions.)

 

The Risk Pictures project aims to make myself as vulnerable as my subject. My collaborators come to my studio (in my house) for a series of three-hour sittings. Each time, at the two-hour mark, I leave for at least one hour, giving my subject complete control of my home. They can do anything they want—eat, sleep, snoop, even steal—and I’ll never ask what they did.

 

In exchange, they are required to alter their picture. I give them all my art supplies with no instruction or guidance. I can't erase what they do, only respond to it. We repeat this process till the work is complete. The final piece is signed by both of us.

Note: Audio descriptions of the artwork are in progress and we hope to provide them soon.