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About the Photographer
American, b. 1979
In Carrie Schneider's photographs from the series Derelict Self (2006-2007), the artist appears as her brother's double, mimicking his actions and wearing similar clothes. The word "derelict" means a person without a home, job, or property—someone who is effectively adrift in the world. Following from this idea, Schneider describes how the inspiration for the series is the notion that "mimicry can be a way to both gain and lose a sense of oneself." Her photographs, a collection of choreographed encounters, portray an ongoing search for individuality through expressions of similarity. In the process, they explore how selfhood is informed by the models we find in other people, specifically in sibling relationships.
Wrapped up in Schneider's photographic project is the question of boundaries and their occasional lack of definition. In most cases, the artist stands just behind her brother's back, hovering like a shadow, close to his body in a way that flaunts conventional notions of personal space. Moreover, as Schneider's character in these quasi-self-portraits "gains and loses herself" via these various encounters, the distinction between the self and the other starts to breakdown. Yet the divide between the two can never really dissolve. The pictures convey––with a strange ambiguity of tone––the intermingled sensations of intimacy and intrusion, awkwardness and assurance, invisibility and acknowledgement.
In certain photographs Schneider amplifies the level of ambiguity to other ends. In Untitled (bed), two bare arms hang loosely off the side of a tall mattress, the artist's draped over her brother's naked back. The act of mimicry here, although in many ways no different than in the rest of the series, results in a picture that resembles a pair of sleeping lovers rather than siblings. Yet if Schneider entices the viewer to jump to conclusions, there is a mannered quality to the pose, which gently deflects the conflation of different kinds of desire. The way that Schneider's extended pinkie finger mirrors her brother's suggests a deliberate, explorative process, a sister's longing to be like her older brother and his willingness to humor her attention.
Carrie Schneider completed a BFA at Carnegie Mellon University (2001) and an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2007). Upon graduating, Carrie attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Kuvataideakatemia (Finnish Academy of Fine Arts) in Helsinki, on a Fulbright Fellowship.