Matt Zoller Seitz, Editor in Chief of
"Your empathy elevates you beyond artists who might have comparable
technical chops. Everything you do has such singular spirit."
"I think Denise's work is exciting
and courageous. I have great respect for her work."
Anne Wilkes Tucker, Curator Museum of
Fine Arts Houston
"No one is making work like this."
Marie Walshe Appi, psychoanalyst (Captivating Not Captive)
"You have captured something here of a notion I have been playing with over
the last few months: the skin as ever-renewing psychic and physical container;
the ego as a constantly evolving narrative, renewing past and future contexts;
the resilience of the human subject in times of trauma.
I have been considering the necessity for the human subject OF trauma, as a
constitutive psychological element, building resilience, developing
self-awareness, challenging imaginary dependencies and fantastical deceptions."
Ian Grey (Captivating Not Captive)
"This is McQueen level. The idea, of course, is that.. fashion *should* do
this when it's functioning at in its highest register. I thought your work was
this value system working at the highest pitch one could hope for mixed with a
gorgeous humanism you couldn't imagine until you actually saw it."
Robert Buck, artist (Captivating Not
"Thank you for this. Provocative,
unsettling, and perhaps not in the ways you, the artist, intends, which is the
case always as Duchamp taught, the "art coefficient", the unexpressed
but intended and the unintentionally expressed. I too think art should step
further than any knowledge we have about it, to even create anxiety."
Dr Mehmet Candas, The University of Texas at Dallas, Molecular and Cell
Biology, (Captivating Not Captive)
"THIS IS POWERFUL! I think you managed reflecting the human beauty and
grace by dissolving the uneasy layers of perception and comforting biased
interpretation. Most importantly, your approach in this work demonstrates
that "emphasis" on portraying of human subject can be diminished, or
perhaps even erased, making the perceptual experience free from constraints.
REALLY NICE WORK, CONGRATULATIONS!"
Peter Simek, D Magazine (Captivating Not Captive)
"Prince’s other contribution is
the strongest – and most difficult – of the lot: the face of a model from an
eyeglasses ad superimposed on (correction: the photograph has been heavily
retouched not superimposed) the face of a dead Indian woman like a death mask.
There is a gentle, empathetic beauty to the corpse, underscored by the “faceless”
beauty of the model. Perhaps we’re dangling on Andrew Serrano-style morbidity
here, but the depiction of the woman doesn’t activate or objectify the person,
but rather endows the deceased woman with a kind of individual dignity while
confronting us with the very mortality the advertisement seeks to hide."
Scott McAfee (Captivating Not Captive)
"Your work and your presentation are truly captivating. It is a rare soul
who can capture the human condition with such sincerity and respect. Thank you."
Matt Zoller Seitz (Captivating Not Captive)
Just a note to let you know that I've been greatly impressed with your recent
work. The "fashion spreads" are challenging and insightful,
provocative in the best way (which is to say they're meaningful and honest,
never cheap or showy). "A Silver Platter..." might be my favorite of
your video pieces. You keep exploring the darkest parts of yourself publicly,
without affectation, in ways that inspire and amaze me. There's no solid ground
upon which to judge (or reflexively pigeonhole) what you do. You create your
When I look at your photos and watch your videos, I am often reminded of a
comment that the director Allison Anders made after she watched Tom Noonan's
directorial debut, "What Happened Was..." She said she was appalled
with herself for never having written anything so honest. Hopefully I'll get
there someday. Having you as an example definitely helps.
Andrea Bowers (A Silver Platter Upon Which I Am Forced to
Wow, this video is really the heaviest
piece I have seen of yours. So much about trauma. Usually the
performative element has a fictional quality or at least easily fits into a
form of performance art making it seem to be representational in some way
allowing for intellectual or analytical discussion of an issue. This
piece is so raw, really reminds me of some of Paul McCarthy's performances
where he inhabits or channels his characters. Also reminds me of McCarthy
in that the abused has the potential of becoming an abuser - no proof in this
but your mind goes there. The first half of the dialog is really disturbing -
confronting dark taboos. The second half humanizes the
"character". I think a potential for empathy is offered up in
the second setting/scene. It seems to be a piece about psychological and
sexual trauma inflicted in childhood from a patriarchal source. You might check
out some of Daniel Martinez's kinetic sculptures, wax figures of himself. I
always thought the trauma in his work points to colonialism and prejudice as
the perpetrator. In your new video fiction vs. reality seem ambiguous,
the real and representational are ambiguous therefore making the viewer really
uncomfortable and one's ability to judge or analyze becomes difficult because
Am I totally off base? Perhaps I'm
stating the obvious. I really love the aesthetic of some of the shots and
compositions. Really powerful video Denise!!!!
Lori Waxman, Austin 360.com
Everything about Denise Prince's video
Beck feels raw and unguarded, full of intimacy and confidence. Of course it is
constructed to communicate just that. The artist appears in a sexy sheer bra
and a pair of old panties, her hair disheveled and lips chapped. The setting is
a bare, acid yellow bedroom whose floral mattress has had its sheets stripped
back. What the artist does there is sit close up to the camera and tell a
personal story, ostensibly about the musician Beck, whom she'd met years ago,
before he was famous. What the story is really about, however, is not Beck but
what it takes to feel and project confidence and to need intimacy and attain
intimacy. Never mind how Beck provides the excuse for this discourse, what's
far more compelling is the twist that Prince herself offers by suggesting that
her character lacks confidence and intimacy, while exuding both of them in this
video. Her unpampered and carefully mismatched semi-nakedness suggest both
confidence and intimacy overtly, but anyone with a sense of styling could fake
it. No, what really proves that the woman on the screen already has what she's
asking for is what she does in the last part of the video, after the
storytelling is over. She dances. She dances to no music we can hear, though it
looks like it has a fabulous, hard, complex beat. She dances like a banshee.
She dances on the bed. She dances like a nut. She dances with a big, black dog.
She dances like she's happy and strong, even if just secretly so.
Artist Alison O’Daniel (Intimate
I think this video is perfect. As art and
as life. It describes what I want out of feminism and art. It's so wholly
unwilling to accept anything but honesty and truth without concealing it behind
power plays, desire, and flirtation-as so much feminist work has done in the
last 30 years. Mine included-indeed this is the very thing I've wrestled with.
And having been there with you during
that summer, watching, it started out as slightly awkward knowing what you were
talking about-as if I had a perspective that isn't addressed in the piece. But
then it unfolds and isn't awkward that I know what I know or saw what I
saw...instead it's a relief because it speaks what we never speak. And
ultimately, I think this is what we are all aiming for. At least this is my
philosophy- to aim for a disclosure and an honesty that is not in contradiction
with empowerment...and most importantly simultaneously owns itself within
vulnerability. Usually, work about vulnerability- much of mine has done this,
and much of your other work does this - still relies on harnessing sexual
desire I think, in a dishonest way, that often cancels the aim out and becomes
an imploding wannabe feminist mess. This mess is what so many people respond to
and want and are titillated by...and yet I can't shake the feeling that it
hands the power right back to the audience because they can name it and
understand it. And sometimes, often if we really take the time to think about
it, this is interesting because it points to the failure of us. But I think, in
this piece, it works in an opposite direction...you display the point of
vulnerability not as a sexual prowess, but from a space of defeat and in saying
what hasn't been and usually isn't said, you find power.
Jerry Saltz, Art Critic for New York
You're video is excellent; very raw,
mysterious, revealing, complex, and vulnerable, radically vulnerable. You are
telling your secrets while keeping them secret.
I did think of the early Pipilotti Rist tape, “I’m Not a Girl Who Misses Much”
and maybe Gillian Wearing’s “Dancing in Peckem.”
But the work is still very strong. Keep me posted.
Way to go.
WOW! You are brilliant...incredibly thought provoking and moving...erotic and
sad and beautiful all at the same time. You are incredibly talented. Thanks for
sharing this. BRAD ARMSTRONG
I watched your new videos--very
intriguing and brave work. So raw. I couldn't turn my eyes away which is the
opposite reaction I have to most video. The background scenery was
beautiful--all that beige grass reminded me of a Wyeth painting.
Andrea Bowers (Soldier)
Soldier piece... is amazing! Really complex and problematic in a super
interesting way! I mean that as a total compliment. The
complexities of the narratives and autobiography is really powerful.
Where does the self begin and end and how do we internalize and deal with the
trauma of the world around us and the trauma we cause to each other. The
gender bending is great too -the way you have added religion and nationality to
issues of gender relationships. The piece seems to be mainly about power
in relationship to identity and the ethical complexities surrounding the
subject matter in the work. It's the best of what I have always admired
about your work - it won't accept or allow an easy moral solution in an artwork
(and probably in life) and yet it honestly admits the ethical and moral
failures that are part of being human. Really tough and amazing piece!!!
Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic of The Village Voice
Denise Prince Martin’s Jesus, Empire Waist investigates the last great
unexplored frontier of art — the secret life of women.
Sara Simon Behrnes
I have never heard of anything so raw in my life. I really respect your honesty…
You are an intense person and you seem to have no fear. I know you must but you
really put yourself out there.
Wonder Women, Mary Anne Connolly, bRILLIANT
Encountering the photographs of Denise Prince is like launching into a novel on
a random page. You can only fill in so much. There’s no certainty of what’s
happened up to this point in the story. Her haunting portraits, a disparate
family of anonymous, real women of every age and body type, clothed in chiffon
to charmeuse, face us with honestly and eloquence despite their silent gaze.
Staged with props as common as purses and bouquets or as bizarre as half-open
gourdes and a stuffed Tweety bird, the subjects compliment their settings, even
though they look like they’ve never been there before. One woman stands in an
open desert, another a grocery store aisle. Here, a forest, there, a dumpsite.
Stories started mid-stream leave you to fill in the blanks.
Things I Never Told You: The Photographs of Denise Prince, Risa Puleo,
catalogue essay Women and Their Work
...Applying rhetoric from literary theory and Roland Barthe’s essay “Rhetoric of
the Image” to define how narrative functions in contemporary photography, Lucy
Soutter writes, “Photography is always and yet never a narrative form: always
in that it contains the permanent record of the act of photographing and of any
actions that were in progress at the moment of exposure, never in that it
remains forever static... Caught in a state of permanent suspense vis a vis
events that have just happened or are about to take place, photographs contain
essential seeds of narratives that can never come to fruition except in the
imagination.” Soutter’s discussion provides useful terms for deciphering the
codes in Prince’s images. By separating the act of photographing from the
actions being performed in the photograph - narration from narrative - we can
begin to understand the rhetoric of Prince’s images and the strategic way in
which she “frames” her tales.
...Though Prince references imagery from a history of representations of woman
in art sine the Renaissance, Cindy Sherman is the artist to whom Prince is most
indebted to conceptually. Where thirty years ago, Cindy Sherman used the visual
codes of cinema to imply narrative in photography and explore the way in which
women are framed in film in her Untitled (Film Stills), Prince employs the visual
syntax of editorial fashion and style photography. Seducing through slickness,
saturated color, professional styling and art direction, Prince’s photographs
appeal to commercial sensibilities. But she then disrupts with details, the
very ones that fashion photographers airbrush out to create their images of
desire, and individual elements fail to coalesce. Rather than creating and
marketing desire, images in the series complicate, even usurp, desire by
amplifying the contrivance of fashion photography to the level of the absurd.