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Ryan McGinley's Models Photograph Themselves for his Mirror Mirror Project

  • Ryan McGinley - Shane, 2018
July 12, 2018
A philosophy graduate interested in critical theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

An acclaimed American photographer, Ryan McGinley was the youngest artist, at the age of 23, to present a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Focusing on the life and youth of family and friends in contemporary culture, his vision has expanded into a tidal wave of influence.

On the other hand, the artist has never been shy about the body in its natural state.

I think most people look at [the nudity] sexually, but I think everyone looks sexier with their clothes on.

His latest body of work, an untitled project involving mirrors which the artist has been involved with for the past three years, is currently on view at Team (Gallery, Inc.). Titled Mirror, Mirror, the exhibition presents works which approach nudity in a unique way, showcasing people undressed in the privacy of their homes.

Ryan McGinley - Nicole, 2018
Ryan McGinley – Nicole, 2018. C-print, 27 x 40 inches; 70 x 102 cm. Edition of three. Copyright the artist, courtesy Team (Gallery, Inc)

The Presentation of Contemporary Identity

Initially inspired by instructional artworks by artists such as Miranda July, Sol Lewitt, Rob Pruitt and Yoko Ono, Ryan McGinley realized that these works would also provide an insight into the private spaces that feature prominently in his works.

Providing his subjects with a camera, a set of instructions, five rolls of 35mm film and twenty mirrors, the photographer sorted through the material and selected a single image to represent each of them.

These work highlight the camera’s role in the presentation of contemporary identity. In addition to the internal worlds of these subjects, the images also show their idealized physical selves.

Ryan McGinley - Jade, 2018
Ryan McGinley – Jade, 2018. C-print, 27 x 40 inches; 70 x 102 cm. Edition of three. Copyright the artist, courtesy Team (Gallery, Inc)

Embracing Differences

McGinley’s subject range between 19 and 87, embodying the notion of beauty in a multitude of ways, inviting the viewer to acknowledge and embrace the differences. It is, therefore, a reflection on the meaning of beauty, identity, and community in an era mediated through the prism of digital culture.

Ariana Reines wrote an accompanying essay for the Rizzoli publication of McGinley’s book stating:

If we could see and believe how lovely we are, I want to say, as the people in this book seem to do, we might not slide so endlessly down the back of the real the way it keeps happening, down the glass-fronted skyscrapers, down the touchscreens our slaves made for us, scrolling down the long length of the think piece and down the waxed anus of somebody else’s body, always somebody else’s, down Satan’s long wet throat.

Ryan McGinley - Janie, 2018
Ryan McGinley – Janie, 2018. C-print, 27 x 40 inches; 70 x 102 cm. Edition of three. Copyright the artist, courtesy Team (Gallery, Inc)

Ryan McGinley Exhibition at Team

As the artist explains, photographs are populated with his friends, making the work about community – his community.

The camera has always been a broker to create and shape identity, allowing people to reinvent themselves, create their reborn identities. The aim of my work is to celebrate that.

The exhibition Mirror, Mirror will be on view at Team (Gallery, Inc.) in New York until September 29th, 2018. This is the artist’s ninth solo show at Team.

  Editors’ Tip: Ryan McGinley: Mirror Mirror

Ryan McGinley, one of the most important photographers of his generation, asks his friends and colleagues to take the camera into their own hands. Following instructions given to them by the artist, a group of individuals explore their own image.

Featured images: Ryan McGinley – Shane, 2018. C-print, 27 x 40 inches; 70 x 102 cm. Edition of three. Copyright the artist, courtesy Team (Gallery, Inc).