MINNEAPOLIS, September 18, 2014—The Walker Art Center is thrilled to present Liz Deschenes: Gallery 7, an exhibition featuring new work by the New York–based artist from November 22, 2014 through November 22, 2015.
Since the early 1990s, Liz Deschenes has produced a singular and influential body of work that has done much to advance photography’s material potential and critical scope. Making use of the medium’s most elemental aspects, namely paper, light, and chemicals, she has recently worked without a camera to produce mirrored photograms that reflect viewers’ movements in time and space. Her carefully calibrated installations of these pieces have probed disparate histories of image production, abstraction, and exhibition-making while also responding to a given site’s unique features.
For this yearlong exhibition—the artist’s first solo presentation at an American museum—Deschenes will produce a new body of work, reconfiguring the space of the Walker’s seventh-floor gallery with a photographic intervention. Eliminating the gallery’s temporary architecture to reveal its east-facing windows, she will allow natural light into the space and install a series of standing rectangular panels angled in relation to the wall and each other. These large-scale abstractions, which occupy the space of the viewer more than the conventional space of the photograph, mark out distinct spaces within the gallery itself as well as create new apertures and angles for viewing the architecture and artwork.
The panels will result from the artist’s distinctive silver-toned photogram process as well as her new experiments in state-of-the-art three-dimensional digital pigment printing. Deschenes produces photograms by exposing sheets of photosensitive paper to the ambient light of night before fixing them with silver toner. Her process is an alchemical one that is contingent on temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors—ultimately open to chance and nature’s intervention. The resulting surfaces of her works offer a foggy, mirrored cast, reflecting the viewers who encounter them as well as the spatial context of their display, and since her chosen materials are prone to oxidation, they “develop” slowly over time. More recently, Deschenes hasexperimented with three-dimensional digital pigment printing on translucent polycarbonate sheeting to produce large blue monochrome abstractions that are viewable in the round. With a surface not unlike the texture of ground glass, these new works absorb and refract incidental light, suggesting a photographic calibration of the gallery’s space.
For this installation, the artist’s most ambitious to date, the temporal and spatial implications of these two photographic processes—one analog, the other digital—find a particular context within the history of the Walker Art Center and its seventh-floor gallery. The angled arrangement of Deschenes’s panels will echo different architectural features of the Walker’s 1971 Edward Larrabee Barnes–designed building, namely its helical plan of gallery staircases that continue onto the building’s outdoor terraces. The rectangular shape and proportion of her panels are also conceived in distant reference to an unbound publication produced on the occasion of curator Lucy Lippard’s exhibition c. 7,500, an all-women conceptual art exhibition that the Walker presented in its seventh-floor gallery in 1973. Additionally, Deschenes has chosen to fit the space of her installation with a picture rail hanging system reminiscent of the one used in the Walker’s now demolished 1940 building, further collapsing disparate spatial histories of site and display.
As in previous bodies of work, here Deschenes continues her speculative research into photography, positioning the medium as a primary experience of surface, reflection, and duration, rather than simply a means of mechanical reproduction. As such, she has conceived the yearlong exhibition itself as a test of the gallery’s own light exposure capacities. Using the printing industry’s Blue Wool Scale, a standard used to gauge the lightfastness of inks, as a point of departure, Deschenes’s chamber of photographic panels will register the effect of natural light over an extended period. Here, the decisive snap of a camera’s shutter is drawn out in time and space, effectively framing the conditions of the work’s display and suspending its historical references for our consideration. “Photography,” Deschenes points out, “is capable of representing much more than a moment in time.”
The exhibition is curated by Eric Crosby, Associate Curator, Visual Arts
About the Artist
Recently described by the New York Times as “one of the quiet giants of post-conceptual photography,” Liz Deschenes has exhibited her work regularly since receiving her BFA in 1988 from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. She has recently mounted exhibitions at Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York; Campoli Presti, London and Paris; Secession, Vienna; and Sutton Lane, Paris and Brussels. Her major installation Tilt/Swing (360° field of vision, version 1) (2009) is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York through September 28 in the group exhibition Sites of Reason: A Selection of Recent Acquisitions. Featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, she is most recently the recipient of the 2014 Rappaport Prize awarded by the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. Her work is represented in the collections of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Since 2006, she has been a member of the faculty of Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont.
Meet the Artist Reception
Saturday, November 22, 2 pm
Medtronic Gallery and Garden Terrace Room
Join the artist Liz Deschenes and exhibition curator Eric Crosby for refreshments and an early look at the Walker’s newest show.
This event is co-hosted by mnartists.org.
Liz Deschenes: Gallery 7 is organized by the Walker Art Center.
The exhibition is made possible by generous support from Gayle and Mike Ahearn, Lisa and Pat Denzer, Linda and Larry Perlman, and Laura Taft.