With her photographic series Character Recognition (2006–2007) U.S. artist Myra Greene examines historical constructions of race and racist ways of looking from a perspective that undermines the assumed neutrality of photography. She transforms the old ambrotype technique and encourages to reflect on the power that visual technologies hold over the representation of race and identity. Greene recalls yet disobeys nineteenth-century ethnographic visual practices and looking instructions, creating a technical and metaphorical deferral of the past into the present and of the present into the past. Her photographic practice unveils the ongoing violent effects of nineteenth-century scientific racism on present-day bodies and embodied ways of looking. At the same time, Character Recognition gives new life to the archives of visual colonialism and experiments with photographic representation and body memory as tools for decolonial options of non-normative (visual) spaces.
Why the Pictures Had to Come from Black. Looking with Myra Greene at Character Recognition