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from Captivating, Not Captive

Denise Prince and Charles Merward fill the space between psycho-analysis’ disclosures and enactments with art, neither illustrative nor semantic but an exemplary meditation on the role of  the body image in the defense against fundamental anxiety. Prince’s images create a conceptual mirrorless camera through which the viewers sees a direct, live view of the specular double before its capture. Unlike the fashion photography with which she began, however, the uncanny doppelgänger forecloses any romantic fantasy and instead retains its traumatic core as raw identification with the other, without any symbolic mediation. Prince’s images demonstrate the enigmatic experience in which one doesn’t know who one is anymore, in which she doubts her own ego and substitutes her reflection with a stranger. Prince’s secret is revealed as her models reflect the viewer’s gaze: I am No One anymore. This artist’s purpose is to unveil the body as a hole, a dismembered space that emancipates the viewer from her image so she is not captive to its auto-eroticism. Ultimately, Prince and Merward offer an exemplary, elegant and brutal experience, Modeling Magritte and Kosuth every bit as much as the fashion houses.

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