I am a Lie and I am Gold is an exhibition about photography without the inclusion of a single photograph. Curated by artist Marco Breuer, the exhibition features drawings, paintings, sculptures, textiles, and installations by 25 artists who engage with a wide range of photographic issues. This exhibition is based on the idea that photography is a principle, not a product.
The ubiquity of photography has a considerable equalizing effect. Everything eventually ends up as a photograph—every experience, every piece of matter is sooner or later translated into a photograph, and then of course shared, and used as a measuring stick for all future experiences. Photography is at once the most public and the most private of mediums. It is an ever-shifting practice that manifests in many hybrid forms.
Photography in all its manifestations has had an enormous influence on other art forms. Artists from Monet to Gerhard Richter have not only based their works on photographic images, they have often borrowed the very concept of photography itself. Many artists have a complicated relationship to the medium, at times working less with and more against photography. David Hockney once said: “Photography is all right if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed Cyclops, for a split second.”
Despite the misgivings that many of the artists in the show have about the medium, they choose to actively engage with photography, and, in essence, they practice photography by other means. This exhibition looks at a broad set of ideas related to the medium of photography, including the deluge of news media images, the camera fetish, the photograph as translation, the unique vs. the copy, and the photographic record as fiction.
At the heart of I am a Lie and I am Gold is the question: how has photography influenced our perception, what we see, and how we see it? Photographer Dorothea Lange wrote that the camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. But maybe what the camera has really taught us is how to see like a camera.
The title of the exhibition is from the song I am a Photograph by Amanda Lear.