By Naomie Kremer, May 2019
Incarnation is an immersive environment of video, sound, and text exploring through portraiture issues of embodiment, the individual, and interpersonal relationships.
A series of nude video portraits of subjects ages 2 to 90 years old serve as the canvas through which I, as a painter and video artist, explore the conjunction of individuality, relationship and community. Video, text and sound are edited separately to highlight the unique qualities of each subject, then brought together in an immersive installation.
Gender and identity are critical issues in our time. With Incarnation, I explore issues of gender, privacy, health, aging and ageism. Each person brings the story written in their body. When two or more people are portrayed together, their relationship is also part of the story.
Nudity is a starting point, stripping off the most basic way of presenting oneself in the world. Unclothed, the body can only present itself, serving as a "canvas" for overlays of story. In the studio I witness an internal process expressed through movement, recording body language—often minute differences in how people occupy the same space. None of the subjects is accustomed to being nude (and recorded!) in public. They all have their own reasons for participating - and as an artist I receive it as inherently a generous act of collaborative creativity.
Perhaps because we hide ourselves in public, being seen naked is a process of self-discovery. Nudity brings us closer not only to nature, but to our own nature. As one subject said, though reluctant at first, she realized it’s not her individuality on show but the universality of living in a body. Young or old, nudity foregrounds the beauty of unmediated physicality. In the editing process I am re-clothing the subjects in environments shaped around the story we create together.
My subjects include: an opera singer in Houston who showed me the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2016; a 90-year-old woman who wanted people to see that at her age she has a functioning, whole body (in her words) that she is proud to show – with all its “imperfections” and despite cultural taboos; a seeker and body worker who is currently moving into working with hospice patients; a woman who recently had a double mastectomy and is learning to accept that the body can incorporate additions and subtractions without losing its integrity; a family whose extreme commitment to a low-impact, ecological lifestyle is an example and an inspiration; a mother, a breast cancer survivor, and her adult daughter whose relationship embodies a universal range of love and conflict. Each is ordinary and extraordinary in their own way.
My work always celebrates “beauty”. It is a way to connect with and create a dialogue with people’s psyches and intimate thoughts through the metaphorical layers of art-making.