Ryan McGinley, March 2019
“I can’t believe you aren’t famous.”
Wayne Allen Brenner, Austin Chronicle,
"Denise Prince is, let's not mince words, a total fucking genius."
Matt Zoller Seitz, Editor in Chief of
RogerEbert.com, September 2013
"Your empathy elevates you beyond artists who might have comparable
technical chops. Everything you do has such singular spirit."
Joel-Peter Witkin, July 2013
"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, June 2013
"No one is making work like
Charles Merward, philosopher and practicing
psychoanalyst, April 2013
"Your work has a transcendental
value because it is beyond good and evil, right and wrong, outside of the law.
It is literally insane."
Marie Walshe Appi, psychoanalyst,
September 2013 (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
Ian Grey, September 2013 (Captivating Not
"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, September 2013 (Captivating
"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, September 2013 (Captivating Not
"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 May 2013 (Replication and Breakdown of the Missoni
Estate Line Catalog)
"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 (Replication and Breakdown of the Missoni Estate Line Catalog)
"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
Matt Zoller Seitz (Replication and Breakdown of the Missoni
Estate Line Catalog)
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
Eat Myself), September 2009
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, July 2009
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
Artist Alison O’Daniel, July 2009
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 Magazine, April 2009
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.
Artist Andrea Bowers, May
2009 (Letter to Wes Anderson)
Denise. I like this
video. It's so strange with all that pink and the visor! The visor is amazing
and somehow throws the whole thing all out of whack in a brilliant way. I like
the more minimal dialogue. I think it is interesting directing. It is video
that has a totally female sensibility to quote a Lynda Benglis video. This video
will make guys squirm. That's why I love it. The only issue I had was the
camera not being level to the horizon line. It's great!
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.
Michael Measel to
gallerist Apama Mackey, December 2008
Your (artist) is depressing… but hot.
EFFEARTE gallery is
pleased to announce the inauguration of Denise Prince's first personal
exhibition in Italy on 7 May 2009 at 7pm at 13 Via Ponte Vetero, Milan.
The Texan artist will stage a unique show immediately “outside” the gallery (on
the sidewalk) and will invite us to come “inside”, into her world, in this way
involving both the art-loving public attending the inauguration and also
“Beyond This Thing Between Us” is the title of this extraordinary project which
will have three distinct parts: the screening of a video, a sincere
monologue-commentary on love and its most characteristic emotion: solitude; a
selection of photographs that clearly show, through the astute use of light,
characters experiencing the moods investigated, submerged in an increasingly
revealed nature. The third part is the original work that gives the show its
name, representing both the overture and the culmination of the exhibition.
A large transparent PVC bubble, which to paraphrase Virginia Woolf we could
call “a bubble of one’s own”, is the place-platform where the artist takes
refuge and acts her part, becoming both the subject and narrative device.
Denise Prince seals herself inside the bubble and in moments that are almost
theatrical, but absolutely natural, tackles the theme of amorous passion, the
passion of a woman who feels “too much” in love, and yet terribly alone. The
artist will be surrounded by the rustling, trilling and warbling of twenty
fluttering yellow canaries, allusive metaphor of the spring-like season of love
in which she envelopes herself. Desultorily, she will admit, but only at the
very last minute, an occasional man, an anonymous and unknown boyfriend who,
for a short moment, becomes the absent yet compensatory part of this diary of
Inward and film-like are the qualities that define Denise Prince's complex
artistic profile. Each image appears to be a gloss on Raymond Carver's
characters (“You don’t know what love is”) while compassion and understanding
seem to be inevitable and no form of detachment is possible. The artist depicts
herself as an adventurous and brave woman, a woman who loves action,
confronting a public which becomes an inevitable and unpredictable external
mirror, just as she pushes towards profound introspection and an intense
exploration of her emotions, towards that “Beyond This Thing Between Us”
delivered in a sincere and transparent way, like the bubble she finds herself
EXHIBITION: Beyond This Thing Between Us
ARTISTS: Denise Prince
INAUGURATION: Thursday 7 May 2009; 7pm
VENUE: EFFEARTE Gallery
13, Via Ponte Vetero, 20121 Milan
Tel. (+39) 02 39198484
PRESS OFFICE: Olivia Spatola
Andrea Bowers, December 2008
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!!!
Really amazing. Hey that shot of you at the beginning in the light with
your hair blowing. That is fucking beautiful. Don't be afraid to do
more stuff like that. That kind of crazy beautiful aesthetic that you can
capture is a real gift and a really powerful manipulative tool. Not many
people can do that.
Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic of The Village
Voice, June 2004
Denise Prince Martin’s Jesus, Empire Waist investigates the last great
unexplored frontier of art — the secret life of women.
Edward Rubin Art Critic, New York, NY Art City Austin Fair, April 2008
The thing I enjoyed most… is the topiary. I think it’s the most original thing
in the show.
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.
Sara Simon Behrnes October 2008
Wonder Women, Mary Anne Connolly, bRILLIANT, August 2004
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, May 2007
...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
Inner Worlds We Inhabit: Denise Prince Martin's photographs transport us to
places within where the unspoken lives, Clayton Maxwell, Austin Chronicle May
AC: Your settings are so fantastic and unusual: the parking lot of a motel, an
oil refinery, a fallow field. What do you look for in backgrounds? How do you
know when you've found one that works?
DPM: I was a filmmaker, so I take my film experience into the photos, as if
they were little scenes. That motel you mentioned ... speaks of something else –
of summer, of that quintessential place. The title of that one is Vibrating
Bed. To me, it's about the wildness of childhood. When I was young and a motel
had a vibrating bed, I thought, "How funny and exciting that you put a
coin in there and the bed vibrates!" And yet a part of me knew that it was
about something else and that it wasn't really for children. There was
something there beyond my experience. So it had that little bit of danger. That
photo is alluding to freedom, to that place where you don't judge. And even if
you were a grownup who was going to have sex on a vibrating bed, you'd have to
have a pretty good sense of humor.