Skip to content

Documentary Fiction: curated by Lizzie Gorfaine and Rachel Wetzler

Exhibition Dates: August 12 – Oct 7
Opening Reception: August 12, 7-10pm
CUAC Main Gallery and CCAspace

Participating artists:
Josh Azzarella
Ben Thorp Brown
Ben Dean
Laura Heyman
Ann Hirsch
Sara Jordenö

The artists in Documentary Fiction explore the tension between the perceived objectivity of the photographic image and their capacity to transform and manipulate, creating partial, even fictional, narratives from what appear to be recordings of reality. Drawing on the conventions of the documentary genre–photographs and videos that seem to testify to an actual event–these artists pose a direct challenge to our expectations of fidelity. Exploiting the gap between fact and fiction inherent in the creation of representational images, the works in the exhibition resist the assumption that an image is an accurate depiction of the world as it exists. 

Josh Azzarella alters appropriated images found on the internet, digitally removing the central figures from the scene depicted. Often using iconic photographs of historical events, the resulting photographs are stripped of their function as historical documents, leaving behind only background details and compositional devices. 

In his project Unseen (2011), Ben Thorp Brown addresses the gap between text and image, and the inherent subjectivity of a second-hand account. Attempting to reconstruct an archive of classified images taken by soldiers in Afghanistan charged with murdering civilians, Brown interviewed journalists who had seen the photographs, presenting their text descriptions in lieu of the censored images themselves. 

Using computer rendering techniques, Ben Dean creates digital reconstructions of various landscapes, complicating the notion of what it means to document a particular place. For his projection Landmark (2003), he created a rendering based on the rock formation seen in the first propaganda video of Osama bin Laden, adding the sound of footsteps and the perspective of walking around the object to give the impression of traversing the landscape. Combined with ambient noise recorded in the artist’s studio, the dissonant elements that constitute Landmark form an ambiguous portrait of a place that is neither wholly real nor wholly fictional.


Laura Heyman: Drawing on the familiar trope of the artist’s lover as muse, Laura Heyman’s series The Photographer’s Wife presents a recurring female figure in intimate, domestic settings. However, the woman depicted is not the photographer’s wife, as the title might suggest, but the artist herself, challenging our expectations of the relationship between artist and model. Moreover, the photographs take on the status of a kind of fictive document of a relationship that doesn’t exist. 

Conceiving of her work as a form of sociological investigation into subcultures of fame, Ann Hirsch injects herself into various media landscapes, adopting fictionalized personas that interact with the real world. For her project Scandalishious, Hirsch spent a year documenting her life as “Caroline”, a college student who went by the moniker Scandalishious, through videos she placed on YouTube. Interacting with various fans and detractors who were unaware that the videos were part of a larger performance and study, Hirsch uses the camera as a vehicle to create a fictional life, complete with inter-personal relationships via the Internet.

Sara Jordeno’s film The Set House (Hedvig), part of a seven-part series exploring various aspects surrounding Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona, takes the house in which the film was set as its subject, examining a place that exists simultaneously within the fictional space of Bergman’s narrative and the real life of Hedwig, the woman who presently occupies it, documenting both the temptation to recreate a favorite film and the ways in which Hedwig resists attempts at her fictionalization.

This exhibition is one of many at the CUAC that features highly acclaimed artists from around the United States and Utah. A review of our programming has recently been included in the highly influential international Flash Art magazine published in Milan, Italy. Artists who have shown at the CUAC over the last four years have been included in the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennial, collected by Charles Saatchi; they have been exhibited in the Getty Museum, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Saatchi Gallery, major museums in Switzerland, Germany, Iceland, Korea, and Spain; They have shown in Deitch Projects, Mary Boone Gallery, Freight and Volume Gallery, the Drawing Center, and many other important New York, Los Angeles, and international venues.

CUAC Mission Statement:

The purpose of the CUAC is to educate Utahns about Contemporary Art through exhibitions of artists from three categories:

  1. Sanpete artists who demonstrate a high level of professionalism in their art;
  2. Utah artists who make art in a Contemporary genre who are emerging or well established;
  3. and artists who are exemplary of important trends in Contemporary Art worldwide.
  4. The CUAC maintains that good education about art starts with strong exhibitions of Contemporary Art that have relevance in content or image to our community. Education also includes outreach to the community in the form of classes for adults and children, lectures and critical dialogue about art, and an inviting, friendly environment that welcomes visitors and encourages questions and strives to provide answers.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *