Portraits From an Ark is comprised of 55 videos of different people being painted to look like animals. Halfway into each video, after the painting is finished—the sitter is told—for the first time – what animal they have been painted to look like. At this point, they’re asked to enact the creature using only their head, face and minor hand gestures. The transitions and transformations each person goes through—from their everyday selves to painted subject to their creative creature-product to, finally, themselves once again—has more to tell us about humans and human creativity than it does about animals. The painters and actors/actresses have, for the most part, only a vague impression of the animal they are trying to imitate—and so we witness the excitement that comes from doing spontaneously what one doesn’t know exactly how to do.
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