A portrait is a puzzle: Cherine Fahd

A portrait is a puzzle
Cherine Fahd

Each work in this exhibition is a unique piece in the puzzle of Cherine Fahd’s ongoing self-portrait. Merging her own identity with those of others, Fahd reveals, disguises, universalises, and empathises. Separated into four series, Fahd’s artists, hipsters and glamourous celebrities elicit our adaptive unconscious. They question the veracity of first impressions and the norms that produce social stereotypes.

Fahd attracted media attention after publishing the article ‘Terrorist or hipster — what does a beard mean?’, which explored the issues of facial grooming in the context of current global events. For the series ‘You look like a …’ (2016-17), the artist selected men who sported beards as a lifestyle choice, not as a religious, cultural or political comment. Morphing her own features with these twelve portraits, including her brothers Kristan and Matthew, in an animation brings further complexity to the interpretation. Our response to this current trend for facial grooming is influenced by the disquiet of current global events, while also reflecting our national fascination with the outlaw Ned Kelly.

Interestingly, if you live in the Arab world as one of my brothers does, dark skin, thick eyebrows, dark eyes and a beard constitute the desirable norm. However, in Australia it’s far from typical. While being Australian guarantees all the subjects in my portraits the rights of Australian citizenship, they cannot escape the heritage of their appearance. CHERINE FAHD

In the series of digital animations I was half French, half Australian it is the blink of the artist’s eye that disrupts our ability to ‘thin slice’. For these unsettling and humorous portraits, Fahd has merged her features with Australian celebrities and French intellectuals to create dream-portraits. Here the artist’s Lebanese background coalesces with vestiges of past, as well as continuing, colonial agendas. These animations oscillate between self and other, familiar and unknown, in effect creating a collection of ‘un-portraits’.

Allison Holland

Exhibition Details
ACP Project Space Gallery, 6 April ­– 26 May 2018

About the Artist

Cherine Fahd (b.1974) lives and works in Sydney, Australia.

Since 1999, she has produced an extensive range of photographic work presenting a contemporary approach to the genre of portraiture. Her work is typically created in series, creating typologies of people, actions and themes that explore the body, concealment, and the performance of identity.

Fahd’s extensive exhibition history includes major public institutions in Australia, such as the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Australian National Gallery. Globally the artist’s work has been displayed at Recontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo and Haifa Museum of Art, Israel.