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About the Photographer
American, b. 1975, New York, NY
Myra Greene writes: "throughout my artistic practice, I have returned to the body to explore issues of difference, beauty, physical and emotional recollections as they play out on the surface of the skin." In her series Character Recognition, Greene adopts the wet-plate collodion process, a 19th-century photographic method that was implicated in the history of colonialism and slavery and used as tool for ethnographic classification. Ethnographic photography was at times aimed at creating a typological record of racial physiognomy; Greene amplifies and examines these preoccupations by photographing her own nose, lips, ears, and skin—which she describes as "the features of race"—as if dismembered from the rest of her body.
Although Greene is working with a highly-coded historical process, one that evokes a complicated and disconcerting past, her photographic studies reorient it in a number ways. She uses a black glass plate, instead of the conventional transparent glass, which results in a unique positive image instead of a negative that could be used to make endless reproductions. Moreover, in making self-portraits, she willingly stands before the camera and controls the process. Her photographs capture not only parts of the body but their small expressive gestures. Effectively allowing the body to "speak back" in this manner, Greene reacts to and rejects the previous modes and manners of classification, displacing the collodion photograph's role in these practices as an exploitative, quasi-scientific record; in its place she offers a rich sensory experience that hints at the individual and the personal.
Greene holds an MFA in Photography from the University of New Mexico (2002) and a BFA from Washington University, St. Louis (1997). Greene is a faculty member in the Department of Photography at Columbia College Chicago.