Creator’s genetic code raises ?s

Tyler, Texas No. 1, 2013, Type C print, 40 x 60 inches; 30 x 45 inches; 16 x 24 inches.

Tyler, Texas No. 1, 2013, Type C print, 40 x 60 inches; 30 x 45 inches; 16 x 24 inches.

Opening September 5, 2015 at Iowa’s Des Moines Art Center in the Anna K. Meredith Gallery, Laurel Nakadate: Strangers and Relations, focuses on an unfolding body of work by the acclaimed photographer, filmmaker and video artist.

     Starting with a series called “Star Portraits” in 2011, Laurel Nakadate began to photograph strangers, inviting friends of friends, Facebook “friends,” and curious members of the online community, to meet her at night. This first encounter was captured using simple techniques including long exposures, available starlight, moonlight and a single handheld flashlight.

     The series soon evolved into “Relations”, as the artist began choosing her subjects via genetic research instead of social connection. Using her genetic code as a source material and the internet DNA testing site 23andme, Nakadate was able to identify distant living relatives.

     They were invited to meet her in a rural location, wearing and bringing with them whatever items they wished. The results are haunting images of distinct individuals, spotlighted against a dark, almost dreamlike landscape.


Carolina Beach, N.C. #1, 2013

Carolina Beach, N.C. #1, 2013


     The series pushes the notion of social networking into the realm of the scientific by exploring genetically-based patterns of connection and community, while also presenting images of varied and intriguing subjects.

     Does this seemingly random selection of people, of disparate age, race, and social background, constitute a family? Do they represent a unique, scientifically-advanced self-portrait of the artist herself? Nakadate’s series raises any number of questions regarding how we define both ourselves and others.

     The exhibit remains on view through January 24, 2016. More images by the artist at:


Published by on August 2015. Filed under At the Centers dept, Iowa, News (Time related), Palette News Arts Network/PNAN, PaletteBoards Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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