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Artists’ Choice An Expanded Field of Photography

  • Exhibition

  • May 23, 2015 - April 17, 2016
  • MASS MoCA

In conjunction with a solo exhibition of work made for MASS MoCA, Liz Deschenes organized a group exhibition featuring six artists whose work tests the edges of photography. Dana Hoey, Miranda Lichtenstein, Craig Kalpakjian, Josh Tonsfeldt, Sara VanDerBeek, and Randy West are represented with a combination of new and existing work (chosen by the artists themselves). Several of the featured artists make work that is considered photographic but is camera-less, while, for others, photography encompasses moving imagery or functions as a jumping-off point for sculptural investigations. With this small but diverse selection of artists, the exhibition poses questions about the state of photography today.

Though the artists were selected for their individual strengths without any thematic restraints, commonalities emerge when their works are considered as a group. Each offers a new perspective on the fundamental properties of photography. Light, depth, and pattern are examined and re-thought, as are support and frame. The medium’s traditional associations with mimetic representation, the male gaze, and reproducibility are also challenged. Many of the artists share Deschenes’ interest in architecture and the sculptural potentials of photography—either creating an image of three-dimensional space, such as Kalpakjian, or with the incorporation of sculpture into their practice, as in the works of both Tonsfeldt and VanDerBeek.

All of the artists engage with a number of pictorial traditions, influenced by predecessors ranging from Josef Albers and Sol LeWitt to Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy. Like many of the artists in the exhibition, these antecedents worked in multiple mediums and pushed the boundaries of photography through their embrace of experimentation and new technologies. All seem to undermine the assumption that photography’s power lies in its ability to enhance visibility; instead, their works often conceal, obscure, and confuse.

Miranda Lichtenstein, High Rise, 2013
Archival pigment print, 50 × 33 3/10 inches, courtesy of the artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York

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