Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Chelsea E. Manning

The Newyorker, August 17, 2017

The harsh sentencing of Manning and the subsequent, high-profile public announcement of her gender identity, in 2013, gave the suppression of her image while imprisoned a special significance: the circulation of outdated photos was an additional punishment. Dewey-Hagborg, an interdisciplinary artist who developed an algorithmic system for generating facial portraits from DNA samples, collaborated with Manning before her pardon and release, using cheek swabs and strands of hair to create a surprisingly diverse array of possible appearances. In the gallery, a group of thirty masklike, 3-D-printed faces float, suspended from fishing line, in dispassionate solidarity with the incarcerated source of their genomic data. “Probably Chelsea” (2017), as the haunting sculpture is titled, challenges cultural assumptions about genetic sex and casts doubt on simplistic practices of DNA profiling. Moreover, as Manning’s poignant wall text notes, the project ingeniously granted her the representation she was long denied, providing a method for smuggling self-portraits into the world. (Fridman; Through Sept. 5.)