BAMPFA is pleased to present a mid-career retrospective of Jeanne Dunning, focusing on the extensive photography and video work of this internationally recognized artist based in Chicago. Dunning's unwavering focus has been the terrain of the human body, and from the beginning, her work gained notoriety for its provocative, and sometimes grotesque, implications. Questioning is central to her practice: perception and visual knowledge, the norms of gender and sexuality, and reality itself are all examined by re-envisioning the relationship of the self to the body and the body to the world. Her images “challenge the boundaries between inside and outside, normal and abnormal, what is taken in and what is expelled, the erotic and the abject,” wrote former BAMPFA curator Alla Efimova. They have become a cornerstone of feminist art criticism. Dunning's art, however, also speaks beyond the feminist perspective with which it is primarily associated. With the intention of rethinking the critical reception to date, Study after Untitled proposes a new look at Dunning's oeuvre through the lens of art-historical influences and the genres of landscape, still life, and portraiture. In presenting unusual perspectives on familiar subjects, Dunning reflects an ongoing investigation into the relationship between seeing and naming. The artist has said, “When people see (my images), at first they may not be quite sure what they're looking at. . . . One of my interests has been in provoking these misrecognitions, unbidden associations, and uncontrolled interpretations that can show us thoughts and interests we didn't know we had.” In Study after Untitled, viewers will be asked what they see, why they see, what they think, and what they know. “Untitled Landscape I (1987) is the first piece I ever made that pictured the body,” Dunning writes in her catalog essay. “When I took this picture of the hairs on my (unshaved) leg, I was just fooling around, trying to use up a roll of film, but when the slides came back from the photo lab I saw that the leg had become a landscape. From the very beginning, things in my work didn't sit quietly where they were put. Instead, they managed to be multiple things at once, and not necessarily what we expected them to be.” Dunning creates landscapes from bodies and from food, playing with the perception of organic substance as scenery, distorting scale and perspective, and emphasizing tactility. The response to these works is visceral first and theoretical later, as is the case with Dunning's “still lifes” such as Untitled Hole (1992) and Untitled Part (1993). Here Dunning abstracts the top of a plum and the inside of a nectarine into networks of lines and planes of color. Close cropping highlights these deconstructed elements, with the result that things appear, at least initially, to be other than what they are (they appear to be sexual organs). Indeed, this section of the exhibition is ripe with humorous plays on traditional associations. Dunning is perhaps best known for her “blob” photographs such as On a Platter (1999), in which a woman stands by a table, her “blob”-a fluid-filled sac the color of her flesh-spilling over into a platter, as if serving up this part of her body for study. “Dunning's work thoughtfully scrambles our conventions of portraiture, replacing a coherent image of the body with a version that reflects our far less tidy internal experience,” critic Ralph Rugoff wrote. In Heads (1989–90), formal portraits of the backs of women's heads, and Untitled (1988)-what appear to be professional studio portraits or passport photos but in which, upon closer observation, the female subjects are revealed to have faint yet unmistakable mustaches-Dunning explores notions of female beauty and physical identity. She does this as well in her video works, with titles such as Extra Skin (Adding) and Trying to See Myself (both 1999), which explore, among other things, the impossibility of getting an undistorted view of oneself. Jeanne Dunning's interest lies in the connection, or lack thereof, between knowledge and expectation. Her work pokes at the line between what we think we know and what ultimately lies beyond our control.