Ethan James Green, Martine Gutierrez, Sam Penn


Ethan James Green, Martine Gutierrez, Sam Penn

February 9 – March 31, 2024

Friday, February 9th, 6–8pm

1.     Some people are made to be photographed and some people are made to make photographs and sometimes, in rare alloys of kismet and appetite, both these destinies cohere in a single person. In the age of pictures, when many of us know the feeling of screens better than the feeling of another’s skin, this is a power more special than the old god magics. Can you imagine? Being both seducer and seduced, both means and production? Each capture a closed circuit, a miraculous birth.

2.     In these pictures, ostensibly self-portraits, made by three friends—Sam Penn, Martine Gutierrez, and Ethan James Green—there is a lot of skin. Aspirational skin, skin as it’s shown in magazines and in magazine advertisements. Usually in pictures and in life we mistake new exposure for an invitation. But here it’s the parts that are always exposed that tempt me, the hands and the ways that hands return, in irregular lines, to the bodies of these selves or their lovers. At the beginning of the self, before people tell us there are others and that others are different, we can’t distinguish between wanting to be and wanting to have. It’s just one primal urge that then catapults us through life until we spin out. I think about how even when the lover isn’t present in these photos, identification and desire run together like the teeth of a zipper.

3.     It’s so nice to see a show that grows out of a shared world, a New York world.  I want to tell you about how in his life Ethan has opened a world by turning the camera away from himself and toward others, including Sam and Martine, in a gesture of—somehow—expansive perfection; all his portraits have the personality and formality of autographs. How Martine seems to use pictures differently, as an excuse to disappear, and how this picture, unlike her other pictures, makes it feel (the way her hand frames her eyes?) like she’s opening the door. How she’s both cipher and key. How Sam left the negatives of her and her girlfriend for too long in a hot car upstate, so that if you look at the resulting photographs, more closely this time, you might see the efforts of the sun baked into their flesh. City people. I want to talk about how each of these artists works with the fact that their medium is watermarked with capital and comportment, the bread and butter of that twentieth-century phenomenon, the magazine. I want to talk about how they’re friends, but more importantly how they know each other. God, I want to tell you so many things but Sam just invited me, another friend, to give some words to this but she didn’t say how many and maybe all I need to say anyway is that these are some images by three beautiful young makers who move in and out of one another’s lives and you should probably just do what most people will do and let the words fall away, let your wants take over.

—David Velasco

Ethan James Green’s (b. 1990) distinctive eye for the personal and essential beauty of his subjects has made him one of the most compelling photographers working today. The New York-based photographer blends the frankness of his native midwest with the breadth and brilliance of his adopted city resulting in portraits of astonishing intimacy that capture and amplify the essence of his subjects. Green’s first book, Young New York (2019, Aperture), is a collection of portraits taken of friends and collaborators in the parks of downtown New York that chronicles the scope of queer identity of the past decade. His forthcoming, Bombshell (2023, Baron), is a study of feminine performance, erotic costume, and beauty in collaboration with hair stylists Lucas Wilson, Jimmy Paul, and Sonny Molina. Green founded New York Life Gallery in the fall of 2022. The Chinatown-based gallery invites visitors into a circle of downtown artists with exhibitions and programming that centers on emerging and mid-career artists, unknown archives, and 20th-century artworks. His work has appeared in such publications as Aperture, Arena Homme +, Dazed, Double Magazine, Foam Magazine, i-D, L’Uomo Vogue, M le Monde, Perfect, The New Yorker, Time, Vogue, Vogue Italia, W Magazine, and WSJ Magazine. He has also collaborated with a range of fashion labels, among them Alexander McQueen, Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Prada, Tom Ford, and Versace.

Martine Gutierrez (b. 1989) is a transdisciplinary artist, performing, writing, composing and directing elaborate narrative scenes to subvert pop-cultural tropes in the exploration of identity—both personally and collectively intersectional to the cultural discriminations of race, gender, class and nationality. Her amass of media—ranging from billboards to episodic films, music videos and renowned magazine, Indigenous Woman—produce the very conduits of advertising that sell the identities she disassembles. Her examination of advertising allows for Gutierrez to hybridize the industry’s objectification of sex with the individual’s pursuit of self, satirically undermining the aesthetics of what we know. While she manufactures ‘celebrity’ to pass as multinational corporations, it is Gutierrez herself who executes every role—simultaneously acting as subject, artist, and muse. Challenging the construction of binaries through the blurring of their borders, Gutierrez insists that gender, like all things, is entangled—and argues against the linear framework of oppositional thinking. These complicated intersections are innate to Gutierrez’s own multicultural upbringing as a first generation artist of indigenous descent and as an LGBTQ ally. Her malleable, ever-evolving self-image catalogs the confluence of seemingly disparate modes, conveying limitless potential for reinvention and reinterpretation.

In 2018, Gutierrez produced Indigenous Woman, a 124-page magazine replete with fashion spreads, product advertisements and a Letter from the Editor all dedicated, as Gutierrez describes it, to “the celebration of Mayan Indian heritage, the navigation of contemporary indigeneity and the ever-evolving self-image.” Through the style and construct of the glossy magazine, Gutierrez subverts conventional ideals of beauty to reveal how deeply sexism, racism, transphobia and other biases are embedded in our culture. This body of work has been exhibited all over the world, including the 58th Venice Biennale. In 2021, the Public Art Fund commissioned Gutierrez’s public art installation ANTI-ICON to be exhibited in bus shelters across New York City, Chicago, and Boston. In 2022, Gutierrez had a solo exhibition entitled Supremacy at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Gutierrez received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2012. She is also a published musician and has produced several commercial videos. Gutierrez lives and works in New York.

Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Cairns Art Gallery, Cairns, Australia (2023); Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK (2022); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, MO (2022); Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Chicago, IL (2021); Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY (2020); Australian Centre for Photography, Darlinghurst, Australia (2020); Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX (2019); Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, TX (2020); and Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, NC (2016), among others.

Her work has been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art, DC; New Britain Museum of American Art, CT; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, among other institutions.

Sam Penn (b. 1998) is an artist based in New York. Her first zine Some Girls, was published by New York Life Gallery in 2023. This is her second time showing with OCDChinatown. She was listed on Cultured Magazine’s 2023 list of young photographers, and her photo work has been featured in Artforum International and Interview Magazine.

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