A Portrait Is A Puzzle was an exhibition of photographs at Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney. Each work in this exhibition is a unique piece in the puzzle of artist Cherine Fahd’s ongoing self-portrait. Merging her own identity with those of others, Fahd’s work reveals, disguises, universalises, and empathises. From hipsters with beards to celebrity glamour shots, each image elicits unconscious responses to question the validity of first impressions and the norms that produce social stereotypes.
Included in the three new bodies of work exhibited was You Look Like a… (2016-17), a portrait series depicting men who sport beards, not as a religious, cultural or political comment, but as a lifestyle choice. This project attracted media attention after the publishing of Fahd’s The Conversation article ‘Terrorist or hipster—what does a beard mean?’, exploring issues of facial grooming in the context of current global events.
The exhibition was accompanied by Fahd’s latest publication A Portrait Is A Puzzle. An artwork itself, this beautifully designed photobook pairs two photographic series that invite the reader to turn the book over and around, interrogating the function of a portrait and the people it depicts as an infinite and unsolvable puzzle.
This project was funded by an Australia Council for the Arts project grant.