Woven Portraits



It is the strange nature of photographic images that intrigues American photographer David Samuel Stern (1982): they have the unique ability to reflect the real, while being limited as two-dimensional, static pieces of ordinary matter. Portraiture, like photography itself, is charged of the impossible task of being simultaneously a reliable representation of the person portrayed as well as the recording of only a finite moment of time. Stern muses on the topic: “How strange that images have secured a nearly universal role as the fabric of portraiture.”

By physically weaving together two large-format photographic portraits printed on vellum, Stern's sitters appear veiled by their own faces, highlighting the elusiveness of photographs as a medium and portraiture as a genre. The combination of multiple frames into each image gives the photograph a certain mystery, reminiscent of futurist paintings that attempted to capture multiple perspectives within a single view. These ‘woven portraits’ are at once rhythmically abstract, photographically objective, and tangible objects.