press release

This spring, New York-based artist Zoe Leonard (b. 1961, New York) transforms Gallery 3 into a camera obscura. Daylight filters-in through a lens, projecting an image of the world outside onto the floor, walls and ceiling, creating a spatially immersive experience. Alongside this, Gallery 1 is filled with a new series of photographs of the sun and in Gallery 2 there is an installation of found postcards of Niagara Falls.

The camera obscura [dark chamber] is a naturally occurring phenomenon that has been used since antiquity as a tool to understand the behaviour of light. The experience of Leonard’s installation is durational and as such invites comparisons with film and video. As the ephemeral panorama unravels continually inside the space, attention is drawn to the shifts in movement and light - some barely perceptible, some dramatic. The north-south axis of Gallery 3 provides constant light throughout the day, giving rise to a continually shifting, cinematic event. Leonard is harnessing the phenomenon of the camera obscura to think about ways of looking, recording and experiencing time and space as well as broadening current conversations about what photography is or can be.

The work created for Gallery 1 defies one of the cardinal rules of traditional photography - not to shoot directly into the sun. Photography customarily depicts the colour, form and spatial extension that the light (of the sun) allows us to discern, rather than the sun as subject itself. These images combine subject and process, retaining the glare and flare on the lens, the grain of the film in the enlarged print and the evidence of the artist’s work in the darkroom. The installation of found postcards in Gallery 2 continues Leonard’s practice of attending to the world around her as source material, reframing or representing already existing images so as to refresh our own act of looking.

Tying all Leonard’s work together is her constant concern with perception and visual experience. She explores photographic seeing, how we relate to the mediated image and how we perceive the world around us. This exhibition addresses three distinct aspects of photography – experience, image, object – and in doing so pushes at the boundaries of photography as practice and medium, its affect on our emotional, political, or psychological experience.

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Zoe Leonard
Observation point