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Focus On: Sharon Core and Bettina von Zwehl

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Permanent Collection
6/24/2023 - 12/3/2023
Organizing institution: The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia
Contemporary artists Sharon Core and Bettina von Zwehl challenge the conventions of traditional studio portraiture and question the myth of “truth” inherent in an image. In each of their early portrait series, Core and von Zwehl explore the limits of photography by subverting the typical behavior of people when they are photographed.

Core’s Drunk series developed from her MFA thesis project in which she explored the ritual nature of consumption. Core threw parties and set up makeshift studios during them to capture portraits of her intoxicated guests. In her Untitled series, von Zwehl exerted precise control over the circumstances in which her subjects were photographed. She notes, “I continue to be fascinated by what appears and disappears in people’s facial expressions if they let go of their photographic ‘mask.’” Through different approaches, the artists challenge and satirize traditional studio portraiture, which typically depicts someone in the best way possible, while problematizing our understanding of photography as a simple truth-telling medium.

Focus On is a series of exhibitions exploring intimate themes through close looking and reflection on four to six artworks from the Museum’s collection.

Curated by Hannah Cattarin, they/she, Assistant Curator.

Exhibition Objects (5)

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