Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Deana Lawson, on view May 8 through June 12, 2021. This is Lawson’s second solo show with the gallery and is presented concurrent to her Hugo Boss Prize exhibition, Centropy, at the Guggenheim Museum, on view through October 11.
Lawson’s work explores how communities and individuals hold space within a shifting terrain of racial and ecological disorder. The exhibition is an arrangement of photographs and spectral material that tune the space to an alternate frequency of unification.
While many pictures result from chance encounters, others are obsessively searched for. Lawson seeks controlled randomness through collaborations with strangers that open new pathways of visuality and kinetic affinities. Lawson’s reverence for intergenerational connectivity within black culture guides her choice of subjects: the presence of elders, the centrality of women, the dynamism of men, and the celestial child all make up her ever-expanding mythological extended family.
Lawson's photographs engage documentary traditions, but the construction of hybrid scenes that bridge imagined and lived realities reigns supreme. Through this dual space, Lawson bysteps logic, and heightens dream color, to give reverence to the body, and the unseen forces surrounding it. Everyday domestic objects and elements of adornment anchor these mythological narratives in the daily realities we navigate. Relationships of value are re-ordered, shadows move forward.
Light is utilized as formative material as figures and spaces absorb wavelengths of light and reflect others in the picture taking process. The interplay between reflection and absorption is heightened by mirrored frames. The mirror is a symbolic encasing, a perimeter that not only demarcates the border of the picture, but is a reflective lining between worlds, that which is “seen” in the photograph, and that which “sees.”
A hologram utilizes an alternate form of optical recording. Similar but different to the process of photography, holography uses lasers (instead of traditional lighting) to expose light sensitive emulsion. The laser becomes a forensic tool, a metaphor to pierce normal perceived reality, portraying either familiar objects with hidden symbolism, or unfamiliar forces with untapped potential.
Deana Lawson (b. 1979, Rochester, NY) received her BFA in Photography from Pennsylvania State University (2001) and her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design (2004). Her work will be the subject of a major retrospective jointly organized by MoMA PS1 and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston in 2020-21. Other notable solo exhibitions include shows at Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2020); Huis Marseille, Amsterdam (2019); the Underground Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2018); the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA (2018); and Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, MO (2017).
Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; Carnegie Museum of Art, PA; Huis Marseille Museum voor Fotografie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; and Whitney Museum of Art, NY. Lawson is the recipient of the Art Matters Grant, John Gutmann Photography Fellowship, Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, Aaron Siskind Fellowship Grant, and a NYFA Grant. In 2013, Lawson was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was the 2020 recipient of the Hugo Boss Prize.