THE CRITICAL EYE by Phil Tarley
Annenberg Space for Photography presents “Identity”: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders the List Portraits September 24, 2016 – February 26, 2017
This is the first complete exhibition of The List Series portraits and the debut of The Trans List, Intimate Portraits of Transgender Pioneers at the Annenberg’s photography space in Century City. Timed to promote HBO’s December 5 release of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ Transgender documentary, the exhibition brings together all of the 151 photographs in Greenfield–Sanders’ THE LIST PORTRAITS. This giant body of work strives to be a revelatory photographic survey of marginalized but heroic groups of American minorities, some of them quite famous. The exhibition spotlights the debut of The Trans List, 40 photographs of members of the transgender community, which accompanies the Timothy Greenfield-Sander‘s directed, HBO documentary.
The List project began over 10 years ago with Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. “I was shooting her portrait for Margaret Garner, an opera for which she had written the libretto,” said Greenfield-Sanders. “During lunch we discussed the extraordinary number of black divas who auditioned for the production. ‘Timothy,’ she said, ‘You should shoot portraits of black divas for a book. I’ll write the text.’”
Wallis Annenberg is quite passionate about her space’s current exhibition. “A great portrait does so much more than merely capture its subject,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “It gives us a glimpse into the subject’s humanity, sometimes even a window into the soul. That’s what Timothy Greenfield-Sanders achieves through his extraordinary photographic eye, and I’m delighted that he has turned his lens …toward the trans community with The Trans List. These stirring and engaging portraits explore the very notion of what separates us and what unites us—how gender and sexuality shape us and define us as people.”
Greenfield-Sanders is known for his intimate portraits of world leaders and major cultural figures. From presidents to porn stars, artists to Oscar winners, Greenfield-Sanders’ work defines a certain cultural photographic canon of our time.
The most innovative and thrilling component of the Annenberg show was a Virtual Reality presentation of a Greenfield-Sanders studio photo shoot. A group of VR stations allow exhibition attendees to perceive the photographer at work in Virtual Reality. Created by stitching together 10 different video files with a VR spherical program, the experience evokes a 360 degree and up and down reality that works every way one can possibly turn one’s head. When I put on the VR headset, visual greed overcame me and I almost got whiplash from trying to see it all. The VR feed incarnated assistants behind the camera, stylists and makeup artists on the sidelines, a skylight above and a floorscape below. Virtually anywhere I moved my head provided what seemed to be real, live, vantage points. It is a remarkable presentation. For more information visit: annenbergphotospace.org