Gallery TPW is pleased to present “Too Hard to Keep,” a site-specific installation by Chicago artist Jason Lazarus, drawn from a growing archive of photographs donated by owners who find them too painful to live with any longer. Initiated in 2010, “Too Hard to Keep” (T.H.T.K.) is a repository for photographs, photo-objects, and digital files that are too difficult for their owners to hold onto, but which are too meaningful to destroy. Bringing together a wide range of anonymous images—including portraiture, landscape and still life—the archive also includes “unshowable” photographs: photographs donated by participants with the stipulation that they are not exhibited publicly, and are instead shown face-down, obscuring the image. Through Lazarus’s installation, which presents a selection of images from the main archive as well as submissions from local donors, the T.H.T.K. archive raises questions that have been the focus of conversations about photography and difficult knowledge at Gallery TPW over the past few years; questions about what we want from photographs, how we understand images that are separated from their producers’ narratives, and why we continue to feel affective attachments to photographs as objects.
“Too Hard to Keep” is part of “Coming to Encounter,” a yearlong series of discursive events and programs at Gallery TPW R&D that experiments with different strategies for looking at difficult images organized by curator in residence Gabrielle Moser.
Jason Lazarus (born 1975) is a Chicago based artist, curator, writer, and educator who received his MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2003. His work has been exhibited internationally and is in major collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Bank of America LaSalle Photography Collection, and the Milwaukee Museum of Art among others. Major exhibitions include “Black is, Black ain’t” at the Renaissance Society, “On the Scene” at the Art Institute of Chicago, “Not the Way You Remembered” at the Queens Museum of Art, “Image Search” at PPOW Gallery in NYC, “Michael Jackson Doesn’t Quit, Part 3” at the Future Gallery, Berlin, “Love to Love You” at MASSMoCA, and “Tiny Vices” at Studio Bee in Tokyo, Japan.