Sam Samore: The Suicidist

October 29, 2006–January 29, 2007

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center is pleased to present Sam Samore's first solo museum exhibition in the United States. Comprising two photography series shown together for the first time—The Suicidist produced in 1973 and the recent The Suicidist (continued)—the bodies of work parallel one another in theme: the artist in various post-suicide situations. Sam Samore: The Suicidist is on view in the Second Floor Mini-Kunsthalle gallery from October 29, 2006 through January 29, 2007.

Playing the role of both actor and director, Samore stages his own death in various ways—strangled with a telephone cord, asphyxiated, overdosed—and examines a macabre psychology in works that are both cinematic and documentary. These black and white pictures evoke both contemporary film noir and a crime scene investigation, and also offer an eerie take on the self-portrait. A sense of absurdist humor and the tragicomic is evident in a number of works in the exhibition. In one picture from the 1973 series, a poster in the background offers an image of a hand holding a flower, and the encouraging words: "Hang onto life for all it's worth." In another, the victim has had the air sucked out of his lungs with a vacuum cleaner. Samore's work suggests a narrative beyond that which is immediately evident. The viewers, questioning what appears before them, are themselves investigators at the scene of a drama.

In the revisited series, The Suicidist (continued), which includes pictures made between 2003 and 2006, Samore shifts from everyday interiors and settings, casual dress, and a midrange vantage point to more austere spaces, each tightly framed, and with the artist appearing impeccably dressed. The hippie/student of the 1973 pictures is now an international businessman, easily interchangeable with any other dark-suited, corporate figure. This transformation of the victim/protagonist is most heightened in pictures that echo a number of earlier compositions, most notably one in which a body is slumped over a pill-strewn desk. By bringing his camera closer to the scene, Samore draws the viewers into the picture—as if they have just discovered the body—and creates a dream-like atmosphere.

Sam Samore has exhibited internationally since 1990 at institutions such as the Kunsthalle Zürich; Fondation Cartier, Paris; and the 46th Venice Biennale. His work was previously exhibited at P.S.1 in the 1997 group show, Heaven. Sam Samore lives and works in New York and in Paris.


 

Sam Samore: The Suicidist is organized by P.S.1 Curatorial Advisor Bob Nickas, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog published by Imschoot, with an introduction by the curator, an interview with the artist by Max Henry, and a foreword by P.S.1 Director Alanna Heiss.