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Counterpoint 2010: Approximating Truth

Dean Dempsey
Year Grant Awarded 2010

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State > NY Zip Code > 94108
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About the Work:

There is an underlying sense of artifice in my images, with myself embodying a variety of characters that have either been multiplied or anatomically deconstructed. Many of those I personify return in different images to create a narrative; some are fictional reconstructions, while others have meaning in real life memory and experience. But at what point does the image become unreal, or an untruth? With photography already a dishonest medium that always omit’s something outside its frame, I stage situations that have never occurred as a way to engage ideas of origin and otherness. With the use of theatricality and body manipulations, these images direct the viewer to approximate truth and fiction in order to locate its purpose within sociopolitical discourse.

Through multiple self-compositing and anatomical fragmentation, I engage in dialogue about normality and how power dynamics are constructed. Much of my subject matter develops from personal history but decenters identity and experience into a public space of encounter. Using the light box format to suggest a film still and advertisement (both allotting only part of something larger to leave the viewer to imagine the rest), many of the characters I employ return in different images to construct narrative. Approximating truth through theatrical embodiment and bodily dismemberment, these figures are derived both from fictional reconstructions and West coast biographical histories.