Lorna Simpson: Gathered presents photographic and new collage works that explore this Brooklyn-born artist’s interest in the interplay between fact and fiction, identity and history. Through works that incorporate hundreds of original and found vintage photographs and drawings of African Americans that she collects from eBay and flea markets, Lorna Simpson undermines the assumption that archival materials are objective documents of history.
In one series, titled May June July 57/09, comprising 123 vintage and contemporary black-and-white photographs, Simpson juxtaposes images of young African American women (and an occasional male figure) who posed for pinups in Los Angeles in 1957 with self-portraits in which the artist acts as a doppelganger for each model. She replicates with precise detail the poses and settings of the original photographs, arranging the work in grid patterns. Linking the historical photographs with her staged responses creates a fictionalized narrative in which the two characters appear to be linked across history in a shared identity or destiny.
The exhibition also includes examples of Simpson’s series of installations of black-and-white photo-booth portraits of African Americans from the Jim Crow era and a series of new works combining collage and drawing.