Andres Serrano’s photographs unveil and polarise. The photographs are often the subject of intense argument and provoke unequivocal reactions. Characteristic topics include the body, identity, sex and death—topics that are usually ignored or taboo in public. Serrano reveals the normal in the unusual, and shows the usual in alienating ways; his works refuse to submit to traditional ideas of beauty and morals, and always play with the voyeuristic curiosity of the viewer. With his directness and his aesthetics, he has pushed out the borders of acceptability again and again. C/O Berlin Patrons e.V. presents a selection of 28 large-format photographs taken from three cycles by this most mythologized of contemporary American photographers—“The Morgue”, “A History of Sex” and “America”. In “The Morgue” (1992), Serrano dissects death and searches out traces of humanity on the pathologist’s examination table. “A History of Sex” (1997) investigates the infinite variety of human sexuality beyond all social and moral taboos. Finally, in the “America” series (2002-2004), Serrano uses personal portraits to explore cultural variety and American identity following the events of 9/11. “America” includes portraits of famous personalities such as Arthur Miller, Snoop Dogg, Anna Nicole Smith, B.B. King, Vanessa del Rio, alongside normal people, pimps, scouts, Muslims, doctors and ministers from a variety of churches. The result is a cross-section of American society without social classification.
The photographs exhibited at C/O Berlin are typical of Serrano's critical style and his tendency to overstep borders and create provocation. In their themes and visual language, his photographs resemble the seductive high-gloss aesthetics of modern media. They also contain a tension between their directness and the baroque style in which they are designed. The compositions reveal a sensitivity that is both challenging and desecrating, yet also clear and exact, free from extraneous, distracting elements.