An artist’s open call for blind dates

Jadranka Kosorcic's 2014 portrait of Aleksander Sedlak.

It’s one thing to read about the relationship between artist and muse. It’s another thing to experience it firsthand, as a model for Jadranka Kosorcic at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). The Croatian-born and Munich-based artist is accepting applications for sitters through April 24.  

Select portraits will be included in the show, Jadranka Kosorcic, running at ICA June 4-22, inspired by the artist's 1994 exhibition, Face-Off: The Portrait in Recent Art, also at ICA.

Even if your picture doesn’t make the cut, the experience of sitting for Kosorcic is valuable.  You’ll join a long list of elites who’ve sat for artists’ portraits through the ages: Emperors, Popes, and Presidents. You’ll also join the short list of today’s regular folks who’ve sat for Kosorcic in Berlin, London, New York, and more. The regular folks are all in Kosorcic’s archives, waiting to be discovered by future historians or anthropologists.

Kosorcic states that her goal is to "create a story about the city of Philadelphia, its past and its present, through the stories which you are willing to tell me about yourself and your life within the city. I will be making a line drawing while we talk and will also record our conversation.”

The conversation makes sitting an active experience, though the burden of creativity remains on Kosorcic. Her line as a draftsman is as rigorous as it is simple and airy. It takes serious concentration for her to work within her own rules and bring a total stranger into her family of characters with recognizable Kosorcic traits. Meanwhile, the sitter is free to verbally riff outside the lines about art, politics, work, or whatever. When the portrait is shown in a gallery, it’s accompanied by the soundtrack of the sitter’s voice. This is another way in which the sitter is an active collaborator.  

Kosorcic characterizes these meetings as a kind of “Blind Date.” It’s a fair frame for her art. She’s a modern nomad and the intimate but fleeting connection between herself and her model captures the zeitgeist. The experience is like meeting an attentive listener on a plane or train. There’s a wonderful chance to make a personal connection and a desultory sense that one must soon let go, as lives separate and take different directions. Destinations and destinies merge for a moment then uncouple with polite, mannered, and all too automatic dignity.

Kosorcic vets sitters via e-mailed photographs. She’s looking for chemistry that she can distill into the drawings with lots of precious care, yet little sentimentality. That’s her mark.  

Speaking of her process and result, Kosorcic says that ultimately "the outcome can be understood as a ‘phantom image’ overlaying my own ‘self’ with that of the object to form one image.” But it doesn’t have to be that deep. It can be friendly fun and nothing more than a kick start for a summer of adventure. 

In preparation for her latest exhibition, running at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, artist Jadranka Kosorcic is looking for subjects of each gender. The portrait sessions will last from one to three hours. To apply, send a photo to For more information, call the ICA at 215-898-7108 or visit

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