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E2 - Kleinveld & Julien
Ode to Picasso's 'Portrait of Dora Maar'

2023

About the Item

Inspired by Pablo Picasso's "Portrait of Dora Maar", 1937 Edition 2 of 7 with 2 APs “Ode to Picasso’s 'Dora Maar’' is a self-portrait of E2 artist Elizabeth Kleinveld as the photographer and artist Dora Maar. Kleinveld was drawn to this particular image of Maar while grieving the death of her father in 2021; she was captivated by the sadness that seems to ooze from the canvas, how the sitter’s melancholia is obscured by the playful color contrast. For E2’s remake, artist E.Paul Julien painted directly over the photographic print of Kleinveld, emphasizing the masking of grief. The artists say of their work... "Everything Changes, the latest phase of our ongoing series In Empathy We Trust, presents odes to iconic images from the Modern and Contemporary art periods. Our artistic process during Everything Changes was heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inescapable upheaval brought about by this once-in-a-lifetime event. This major societal shift alongside ongoing social unrest compelled us to further explore the distorted realities permeating American culture and, consequently, veiling oppression of marginalized communities. With lockdown restrictions disrupting our usual process of gathering for photoshoots, we also began playing with new approaches for our work. As a result, our latest iteration marks a new technique exploration, with completely over-painting atop of select prints, adding an additional layer of distortion to an already-altered reality. The title for this show takes inspiration from one of our favorite Frida Kahlo quotes: “Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.” The pandemic fostered a collective understanding of just how malleable and fragile our reality is. Our perceptions, our personal routines, and our culture as a whole – these realities are never guaranteed stasis, and the only way to move forward is to evolve, both as artists and individuals. The pieces in this show invite viewers to embrace the inevitability of change and the natural discomfort of re-examining their expectations of how a work of art – and by extension, a culture – should look. The process of creating an e2 image has always involved intense collaboration, and the images here would not be possible without stellar teamwork. We would especially like to thank Cameron Wood for his extensive digital post-production and our wonderful models." ⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ As the photographic duo E2, New Orleans natives Elizabeth Kleinveld and Epaul Julien seek to remake images from art history to reflect their own experience of the contemporary world. Tackling icons from the great masters like Botticelli, Manet, Rembrandt, and Van Eyck, they recast instantly familiar images in a distinctly modern manner, breaking them free from centuries of historical context and placing them firmly in the present. Kleinveld and Julien were introduced when each showed photographs in the traveling exhibition, Before (During) After: Louisiana Photographers Respond to Hurricane Katrina, for the storm’s five-year anniversary in 2010. They quickly realized a shared interest in matters of social justice and racial and socioeconomic inequality, which this natural and man-made disaster had brought into focus. Soon after, they began working together on In Empathy We Trust, an evolving photographic project seeking to examine contemporary social issues through the lens of art history. The journey from the original germination of an idea to a completed E2 photograph is long and complex, often taking six months to a year. Both pre-production and the shoots themselves take place on two continents, as Julien lives in New Orleans while Kleinveld resides in Amsterdam. As such, the planning and execution of their shoots involve months of collaboration, with countless emails and phone calls exchanged. Kleinveld and Julien begin their process with online research and by visiting museums throughout the United States and Europe, searching for compelling images that resonate with our contemporary experience. They then seek to change the context of these images, replacing the original figures with contemporary stand-ins from all races and backgrounds, to more accurately reflect the diversity of the world around them. Once an image is selected to be “remade with a twist,” they begin to find sitters (preferring artists, actors, and friends rather than models) representing a wide range of marginalized groups – African-American, Asian-American, LGBT – who have not seen themselves equally represented in media and art. After sitters have been selected, E2 begins the work of sourcing costumes. Their European shoots have involved costumes from the Dutch National Theatre in Amsterdam, Dutch costume maker, Bert Nuhaan and Studio Pietro Longhi in Venice, while their hometown shoots in New Orleans are a bit less glamorous, seeing them employ sources varying from thrift stores to friends’ closets. The photographs themselves are the product of careful planning and production rather than chance – more Gregory Crewdson than Diane Arbus. Each shoot is a carefully orchestrated production, featuring up to a dozen sitters, as well as lighting, costume, staging and more. Kleinveld and Julien’s work as E2 sees them each taking on a myriad of roles, from auteur to producer to subject. The finished product is a result of intense collaboration and teamwork, with both Julien and Kleinveld taking turns behind the camera. After the shoots are completed, the work of post-production begins, where extensive digital collaging of subjects and background is often required. They often employ artists such as Italian painter Marco Ventura to hand-paint the backgrounds of their images, further blurring the lines between both photography and painting, and present and past. In a world that is becoming increasingly stratified along religious, cultural, economic, and ethnic lines, E2’s photographs apply a new interpretation of icons from the past, making them more inclusive for the multi-cultural world we live in. E2 does not seek to make demands, but to pose questions: why shouldn’t Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring be Asian? Why can’t the iconic image of Washington Crossing the Delaware be adapted to show the first President as an African-American woman? For it is in these answers that we find the lingering doubts and biases that we often do not dare to acknowledge.
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