artist / participant
Murray Guy is very pleased to announce our first exhibition with Zoe Leonard, opening on Saturday, 15 September 2012.
Leonard’s first solo show in a New York gallery in nearly ten years, the exhibition could be said to begin with a series of questions:
“What is photography? Is it a print or an object, is it a jpeg on your screen or does it only exist if you print it out? Is it a snapshot on your phone, a slide projection, or the image you see in your mind before you click the shutter? In short, is photography a thing, or a picture, or is it a way of seeing?”
Engaging many of today’s core questions around photography and image-making, and stepping back from current debates about analogue versus digital (or nostalgia versus progress), Leonard will transform one of the gallery’s spaces into a camera obscura. In this embodied experience of viewing, a constantly changing panorama of 17th Street — with its mix of architecture and urban activity that reflects the immense changes in Chelsea in recent years — will project continuously on the floor, walls, and ceiling. Neither analogue nor digital, the dark box of the camera obscura can be understood as a model for the mind and the unconscious, an apparatus that makes visible the mechanics of sight. What happens inside resembles what transpires in one's eye: light lands on the retina inverted and reversed, and a series of transformations occurs in the brain allowing us to comprehend the images we receive.
Next to this dark chamber, in a room illuminated by sunlight from a newly opened window on the gallery's east exposure, Leonard will show a series of hazy black-and-white photographs of the sun. Transgressing proscriptions about not looking directly at this brightest of the stars, these photographs push at the limits of vision and lay bare an incapacity to see, one which Elisabeth Lebovici connects both to the enlightenment and Goethe’s famous last words “Licht! Mehr Licht!,” and to Turner’s painting of Regulus, the Roman centurion who was sentenced to have his eyelids ripped off while facing the sun. As visitors to the gallery move between the two rooms — one light and one dark, each the inversion of the other — their pupils will dilate and contract, re-calibrating their vision like the aperture of the camera’s lens.
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