Poise, Power, and Protocol

In Poise, Power, and Protocol Caitlin Rueter explores history as a vehicle for constructing identity. She uses an underdeveloped chapter in American history: the First Lady’s role next to the president of the United States. Inspired by the American tradition of historical re-enactment and its blend of reverence and play, she adorns life-sized paper dolls with personal effects borrowed from each of the First Ladies, from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama.

The process is a dialogue between the historiography of the First Ladies and the history of image making. Each piece begins with a single portrait of a First Lady. The source material ranges from photographic reproductions of historical oil paintings, to daguerreotypes, glass plate negatives, photographs derived from film and, finally, to digital photographs. Rueter creates a high-resolution life-size photograph of herself, posed as closely as possible to the woman in the original image. She combines these elements, inserting herself in place of one of the First Ladies.

Rueter’s work refers back to the origins of portraiture, in sculpture, muralism and bas-relief. In the combination of truth and fiction, the exhibited works contain an endless number of histories, each with elements of fact and fabrication that bedevil any attempt to construct a single, all-purpose narrative.

Arcade Cardiff

12.30pm – 5.30pm Wed - Fri


Arcade Cardiff

Unit 3b

Queens Arcade,

Queen Street,

Cardiff ,

CF10 2BY

Poise, Power, and Protocol

Caitlin Rueter

03 -23 October
Rueter Scene3and4 detail