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Charles Ray

No

1991

The work of Charles Ray forces a double-take, a reexamination of what is seen and experienced, offering a “reality” that is immediately graspable but ultimately fugitive. No is a framed self-portrait of Ray from the waist up, hands folded at his chest. At first, the work appears to be a straightforward photograph of the artist, but closer examination reveals it to be the image of a fiberglass dummy made very convincingly in Ray’s likeness. A nod to Surrealist formulations of the uncanny, the work is a testament to the unsettling hybrid oeuvre that Ray has compiled over the course of four decades, a body of work that seeks to disrupt the normal order of things, offering a sense that “reality” is at once immediately graspable and ultimately fugitive.

Charles Ray (b. 1953, Chicago; lives and works in Los Angeles)
No, 1991
Color photograph in artist’s frame
38 x 30 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Gift of Lannan Foundation

I wanted the viewer...to have to give this thing an incredible amount of time. So I got interested in that moment...when your perception is radically altered, when you realize that this thing was...something. You don’t know if it was in your mind or...virtual reality. —Charles Ray