Ashley Middleton (b. 1985) is an artist, curator, and editor based in New York. She received her MFA in Photography from Parsons School of Design and her MA in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London. Middleton has showcased her work at Photoville in New York, Pingyao International Photography Festival in China, and Auckland Festival of Photography in New Zealand. Her most recent curatorial project, Cartographies of Inclusion, was part of the Urban Photo Fest in London. She lives and works in New York City.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in New Jersey, closer to Philly than New York. I’m the youngest in my family, with two older brothers and parents who owned an american diner in the center of town. My brothers have since taken over the family business, and have successfully kept it the social center of the community. Although I’ve never desired to be a part of their business, I’ve found that it has heavily influenced my practice.
As an artist I have worked to facilitate deeper, more connected, interpersonal relations. I focus on how micro-interactions (shaped by culture, experience, and social practices) develop macro-routines that become embodied knowledge carried through our daily lives. My work develops methods for understanding the infrastructure of self-identification and its relationship to shaping how we relate to others. As a curator I’m consistently evaluating my place, my privilege, and my ethics, to create a collaborative structure that critically engages with institutionalized discriminative frameworks. Read More
Interviewed by Dr. Lev Manovich, professor in the graduate center of City University of New York, director in Software Studies Initiative, and author of books on New Media Theory
Lev Manovich: Your thesis project is very interesting and visually rich, and on this level it seems to be quite far from 1960s minimalism. But the “system” of combinations you construct brings to mind the systematic approaches used by Oulipo writers who used constraints to create poems and fiction. Can you comment on the interplay between the “rules” you employ in your project and the result?
Ashley Middleton: Similarly to Oulipo writers, I’m interested in how systematic constraints can produce a series of endless potentialities. In my case, it is the endless potential of self that I’m most curious about. So the only rule I’ve made is that every five years, for the rest of my life, I will shoot fifteen strangers that I believe look like me. With the use of photography and video I’ve set up a system to collect people that I think look like me. The goal of this work is not to find my doppelgänger, but to continuously visualize self-perception and locate distortions. Each series will produce a narrative that is a piece of the whole so the project can only exist in its entirety where I no longer do. It is fixed to produce a series of potentials, not a static representation of self. Read More