Excessive Exposure documents all the chocolate-colored portraits that Bronx-born artist Lyle Ashton Harris made with a large-format Polaroid camera over the past ten years. This sequence of approximately 200 paired front and back portraits, for which Harris has become so well known, has now come to a close, making this volume the definitive publication on the series. The portraits' subjects include Harris' family and friends, art-world personalities, noted cultural figures, celebrities and politicians. These images are further distinguished by a strategic blurring of conventional gender roles, sexual identities and racial categories, and by a refined use of light and shade. Okwui Enwezor contributes an essay analyzing Harris' portraits, situating these works in the context of the artist's work of the past 20 years, as well as in the broader history of the genre. The book also includes a conversation between Harris and artist Chuck Close that took place in 1999, when Harris was beginning the series. With a penetrating foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Excessive Exposure offers a wealth of superb portraiture and is destined to become a touchstone volume among photo-books.
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Lyle Ashton Harris has always been a controversial photographer - as well as one of the more talented and imaginative photographic artists working today. This particular monograph EXCESSIVE EXPOSURE is a fascinating one, a collection of portraits of some of the more important figures in front of the public today as well as many of his friends and family. Harris calls these 'chocolate portraits' to describe the cross-processing technique resulting in a sepia tint. His subjects are posed in front of a stark black background, stare directly into the lens and are captured by Harris' well known 'of the moment' technique. According tot he artist 'It's about beauty, mapping. It's about looking. It's about collecting.' Among those faces we will recognize are Anna Deveare Smith, artist Kara Walker, Rev. Al Sharpton, artists Kehinde Wiley and Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close, Tony Kushner, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr who contributes the Foreword to this book. Okwui Enwezor, Nigerian-born American educator, poet, writer, art critic, and curator specializing in art history, offers a well-written essay that analyzes the approach and the significance of Harris' portraits. In all there are some 200 portraits, each intense and memorable. This appears ot be one of the more important collections of portrait photography making news right now. Grady Harp