“Identity and Non-Identity: An Interview with Lisa Holden,”             N. Elizabeth Schlatter, curator, writer, museum administrator

Holden's imagery stands apart with her interest in themes of identity and gender combined with fantasy and art historical precedents, as well as for her unique process that merges photography with painting and sometimes installation and performance art.


Artspace talk: With Brian Sherwin

Lisa combines digital imagery with hand-painted layers to create 'parallel realities', referring to the exploration of displacement, adoption and the reinvention of identity as a necessity for survival. Holden's large-scale, 'digitally flawed' painting-photographs interpret and react to our super-fast-paced, technologically driven society. The result is the artist's depiction of a psychological spiral into more personal fracturing of identity, multiple transformations, and a more isolated self and society.

Curatorial essay, Laura Noble, gallery director, curator, author

The disconnection between identity and environment is ever-present in Lisa Holden’s art. As an adopted child she always felt “like a square peg in a round hole,” not quite belonging to the world she found herself in. Born in London to a South African mother and Austrian father, Holden was given up for adoption and raised by British parents. This fractured beginning has informed her work in subsequent years. Consistently throughout her career Holden has explored her identity from a personal and societal perspective. Presenting herself to the world through her work, she has developed a complex visual language that is as layered as the identity she chooses to explore.

The ties that bind her psychologically, physically and emotionally are transposed through the manipulation of many materials. The final result is a photograph, yet this ocular enterprise is by no means achieved through usual photographic practice.

To describe Holden’s art one must understand the processes that make up the final product. There are often around 60 stages in making one piece alone, with up to 85% of Holden’s production discarded in its final or end stages. Viewing the work to scale can make or break the final outcome. This massive output is all part of the creative process for Holden, who frequently finishes a work, prints it full size, to then reject it. The finished work is therefore fully formed and meticulously considered before it is presented to the wider world. This obsessive attention to detail has given her the reputation she has today and procured fascinating and challenging imagery.

Laura Noble, gallery director and writer