Photography can be thought of as a medium, a tool, an object, a practice, or, more often than not, some combination thereof. Through approximately 40 works, some of them created for the exhibition and some shown for the first time, The Anxiety of Photography examines the growing number of artists who embrace photography’s plasticity and ability to exist, sometimes uneasily, in multiple contexts.
The fluidity of photography as a medium can produce fundamental anxieties for both artist and viewer. The pervasive use of photography within conceptual art practices of the 1960s—and a generation later by artists of the so-called pictures generation—effectively ended the debate about photography’s status as art. However, the status of the medium itself remains unresolved. Many of the works in this exhibition reflect powerfully on the changing nature of our relationship to the materiality of images, as artists produce photographic prints from hand-painted negatives, violently collide framed pictures, arrange photographs and objects in uncanny still lives, or otherwise destabilize the photographic object.
Many of the artists included in The Anxiety of Photography—some of whom self-identify as photographers, others for whom photography is central to their work—employ an expanded collage aesthetic and have fully digested notions of appropriation. Throughout the exhibition, both the “objecthood” and connectedness of images is felt strongly, whether expressed in front of the camera or in the presentation of the work itself. These investigations of the medium are furthered by a pervasive reinvestment in studio practice and an interweaving of personal content within the work.
The Anxiety of Photography includes work by Colby Bird, Miriam Böhm, Liz Deschenes, Roe Ethridge, Brendan Fowler, Mario Garcia Torres, Leslie Hewitt, Matt Keegan, Annette Kelm, Elad Lassry, Anthony Pearson, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Matt Saunders, David Benjamin Sherry, Erin Shirreff, Dirk Stewen, Sara VanDerBeek, and Mark Wyse. On the occasion of the exhibition, an extensively illustrated catalogue will be produced, featuring newly commissioned contributions by Anne Ellegood, senior curator at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and Jenelle Porter, senior curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.