Carrie Schneider doesn’t like having her picture taken. It’s an odd confession given the 30-year-old photographer/video artist’s affinity for self-portraiture. But like Cindy Sherman and Tracey Moffatt before her, Schneider’s arresting self-portraits aren’t exactly literal.
“Most of the time,” she says, “I don’t think of myself as being me.” She styles herself as a stand-in for young women in general. She has been a lusty lady clutching a mound of dirt, an island queen donning a crown of juniper branches, and the androgynous clone of her brother, Russell, a librarian who lives in Pilsen.
Though Schneider was born and raised in Chicago, her work first took off in Finland. In 2007, she traveled to Helsinki on a Fulbright Fellowship after completing her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work grew as she forged friendships with a budding generation of Finnish filmmakers and landed a solo show at the Finnish Museum of Photography.
Lately Schneider’s career has taken off stateside. There was the solo show at Monique Meloche Gallery in Wicker Park late last year, two group exhibitions this fall (one at Meloche, the other at the West Loop’s Packer Schopf), and in December, she’ll debut a short film, Slow Dance, in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 12 x 12 project space. Shot this summer with her brother on a trip back to Helsinki, the piece is an amped-up (literally—it’s set to a rock ballad) sequel to a moody series of staged photographs Schneider took at Wicker Park’s Rainbo Club in 2006 and 2007. It’s also more akin to traditional filmmaking than a lot of the Handycam-generated video art out there. Working for the first time with a pro cinematographer, Schneider was able to focus on direction, orchestrating the subtle yet meaningful glances exchanged as a girl in a Helsinki bar asks Russell to dance.
“I love that idea of creating a fiction and having photography give it that tie to truthfulness,” Schneider says. “It’s depicting something that existed. But there’s this tension between this thing that actually happened and this thing that’s totally made up.”
GO: Carrie Schneider’s solo exhibition runs Dec. 4th through 27th at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-280-2660, mcachicago.org
“Ghost (for Salla)” print provided by Carrie Schneider