Jack Shainman Gallery is proud to present Junction, a new body of work by Paul Anthony Smith and his first solo exhibition with the gallery. Spanning our 20th Street and 24th Street spaces, Junction features Smith’s unique picotage on pigment prints that question, confront, and challenge the potential of a photographic image to retain past truths and constructed realities.
Junction celebrates the rich and complex histories of the post-colonial Caribbean and its people, often trapped in the intersection between cultural politics and individual, pedestrian identities. Memory, migration, home, and dislocation through globalization are central to Smith’s work. Deeply inspired by Caribbean scholars Frantz Fanon and Stuart Hall, Smith probes questions of hybrid identities between worlds old and new. The title, Junction, signifies to the artist an amalgamation of people and places: a connecting point with Brooklyn’s Broadway Junction subway stop and a space in which individuals convene in groups. This body of work is the junction of Spanish, French, and English colonizers of Caribbean lands and the gathering place of the diaspora for the West Indian Day Parade.
Patterned in the style of Caribbean breeze block fences, modernist architectural elements function as timestamps and veils, meant both to obscure and to protect Smith’s subjects from external gaze. Images originally photographed by Smith both in Jamaica and New York City are rendered with tactile surfaces through his method of picotage layering. While photography typically functions as a way in which to reveal and share information, Smith’s picotage has a concealing and purposefully perplexing effect. Forcing these nuanced diasporic histories into a singular picture plane, Smith encourages layers of discomfort and unease among these outwardly jovial, if not banal, portraits. Picotage, then, serves as an access point as Smith interrogates which elements of identity are allowed to pass through the complexities of borders and migration. Amidst tensions, intricacies, and misidentifying gazes remains the power of community assembly – a reminder of the Jamaican coat of arms, which reads: “Out of many, one people.”