Reception: Friday, April 13th from 5-8pm

Christopher Meerdo

Christopher Meerdo (b.1981) is a Chicago based artist who grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Lithuania. Meerdo’s work was recently currently featured in a year-long solo exhibition at the Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art. He is the Fellowship 15 International Award winner for his projects Iceland and Cataphote, was an artist in residence at the SIM Program in Reykjavik, Iceland and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2013. Meerdo received his MFA in Photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago and currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent and forthcoming exhibitions include The National Gallery of Kosovo, Exgirlfriend (Berlin); The Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL); CocoHunday (Tampa, FL); Floating Museum (Chicago, IL), Cabinet Magazine (Brooklyn, NY); LVL3 Gallery (Chicago, IL); Second Street Gallery (Charlottesville, VA); SIM Gallery (Reykjavik, Iceland) and a traveling exhibition in Birmingham and Leicester, UK. More information can be found at http://0-0.ooo

time machine for variation identification and memory, Raspberry pi, micro sd card, power adapter, USB LED clock fan, flameless USB lighter, micro USB LED 10x9x4 in, 2016

integrated simulation and synthesis, Raspberry pi, micro sd card, power adapter, Snoop Dogg BUSH G Slim Liquid Vaporizer, USB powered fan, flexible USB LED Lamp 12x8x5 in, 2016

clustering for similarity in data mining, Raspberry pi, micro sd card, power adapter, programmable USB LED fan, 16Gb USB fake thumb 8x8x6 in, 2016

Active Denial System, Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art installation view, 2016

HD Protech Cite M1G2, 2016 hydroprint on retroreflective fabric, cnc extruded polystyrene, hydrocal, mixed media

Haute VIEW, 2016 hydroprint on retroreflective fabric, cnc extruded polystyrene, hydrocal, mixed media

Metadata, 2016 HD video, 11:01 min custom display monitors, raspberry pis, network switch, sound system

Underground-Nuclear-Fallout-Home-Las-Vegas-NV-west-wall-detail-dusk, 2016 Archival pigment prints, 20 x 30 in. each

Underground Nuclear Fallout Home Las Vegas NV, south wall, dawn, Archival Digital Print, 20 x 30 in, 2016

Erythrocyte Ghosts Filled with Quantum Dots Improve Cryogenics with Microarea Custom Freeze Thaw @Document

Erythrocyte Ghosts Filled with Quantum Dots Improve Cryogenics with Microarea Custom Freeze Thaw @ Document

Death Stress Implant Network Detour (DSIND), Custom display monitor, media player, 30” loop, 2016

Earth/Nature + Individual Preparation = Sovereign Integral Realization, Custom display monitor, media player, 2’43” loop, 2016

Lightbody_astral.jpg//white_matter_of_left_cerebral_hemisphere-2.x3d, Extruded polystyrene, hydrocal, plaster, hydroprint, acrylic gloss glaze 36x 24x 20 in, 2016

hplusmagazine-2008-fall.pdf//EMDB-6003-surf-radial.x3d, Extruded polystyrene, hydrocal, plaster, hydroprint, acrylic gloss glaze 44x 36x 14 in, 2016

Collective Human Mind System Reality, Custom display monitor, usb flash drive, LED strobe light, 1’23” loop, 2016

Brute Force, archival digital prints, 2014, Elmhurst Art Museum Biennal, installation view.

Brute Force, archival digital prints, 2014, The Hills, installation view.

Brute Force xtxp8.jpg (cop selfie), Archival Pigment Print, 23 1/2 x 17 1/2 in, 2014

IMG1272.jpg, Archival Digital Print, 15 x 12 1/2 in, 2007-2015

IMG38.jpg, Archival Digital Print, 10 x 9 in, 2007-2015

IMG67_1.jpg, Archival Digital Print, 10 x 9 in, 2007-2015

Kirkjufell, Iceland, archival digital prints, 12x18 each, 2013

Svartsengi, Iceland, archival digital prints, 12x18 each, 2013

Cipher (insurance.aes256), ultraviolet curing ink on seamless paper 350x100 in, 2011

Cipher (insurance.aes256), ultraviolet curing ink on seamless paper 350x100 in, 2011

Cataphote, 2014 welded steel, retroreflective fabric, zippers, vacuum 16x18x9 ft collaboration with May Wilson


Newcity Art Review

April 19, 2018  //  By Lee Ann Norman



Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s photography, books and installations reveal an artist deeply invested in the ways we construct identity. Working within the history and discursive space of portraiture, Sepuya visualizes queer intimacies, uses photographic equipment as signifiers and the space and function of the studio to ask questions about who we are and what makes it so. In “Dark Room,” his latest exhibition at Document, selections from his “Mirror Studies,” “Exposures” and “Dark Room” series create a through line between Sepuya’s previous and current ways of exploring these concerns aesthetically. Tangled limbs and bodies in various states of concealment, embrace or touch are sometimes hidden by enlarged prints of other photographs or draped velvet fabric. The disjointed compositions echo collage and the cut-up sensibility of zines while they are nonetheless steeped in the familiar traditions of painting and portraiture.

As an undergraduate at New York University, Sepuya developed an interest in traditional portraiture—straight-ahead compositions replete with posed figures, symbolic objects and fabric backdrops to elucidate the social status and character of the sitter. He quickly became consumed with discovering other ways to capture the essence of his subjects, however. Sepuya’s photographs continued to feature members of his social and intellectual community and the objects that define them, but space to create his compositions became increasingly difficult to come by especially in the rapidly gentrifying borough of Brooklyn where he was based. Sepuya eventually turned his apartment—particularly the bedroom—into a workspace. The friends, lovers and dear ones who sat for Sepuya in his studio-home were photographed lounging on the bed, framed by rumpled piles of clothing on the floor, near his books and other photos spread out for editing as well as the detritus of daily living. This blending of the public and private transformed the way he worked and shifted his creative output.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya Mirror study for Joe (_2010980), 2017 Archival pigment print 34 x 45

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, “Darkroom Mirror (_2100135),” archival pigment print, 24×32 inches
Sepuya left Brooklyn for the sunnier skies of Los Angeles in 2014 to pursue an MFA. Back then, as was the case in 1982 when the punk band Missing Persons first sang “Nobody Walks in LA,” chance encounters with friends, celebrities and strangers on the street—so common in New York—were less frequent. The city’s large and sprawling geography necessitate that Angelenos navigate the city in more socially isolating ways. Moving back into a dedicated studio allowed Sepuya to think about how that space might function once again. His new work began to explore the idea of visualizing the studio as a social space, this time more akin to the notion of home. The images presented in “Dark Room” continue in this vein, with Sepuya using the illusion of intimacy and familiarity as the backdrop to production.

While Sepuya’s visual compositions evoke the personal, he intentionally does not set out to create narratives—biographical or otherwise. The access he provides viewers through his scenes inevitably, however, implies that he might. Traversing the gallery might encourage a viewer to inquire about the relationship of the photographer to his subjects: Who is “Joe” in “Mirror Study for Joe (_2010980),” 2017, and what is he to Sepuya? In the photograph, their bodies are mostly obscured by an enlarged print that has been folded and affixed to a camera tripod like a makeshift billboard, Sepuya’s umber hand resting lightly on Joe’s beige one. Discerning relationships is similarly unclear in “Figures (_2020784),” 2017. Sepuya’s hands hold black and white photo prints that show two figures embracing from various perspectives. The disorienting scene reads like an image in a broken mirror and is so tightly framed that determining where the image Sepuya holds ends and where the actual studio space begins is difficult, yet riveting.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya Darkroom Mirror (_2100135), archival pigment print, 24×32

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, “Black Mirror Study (_2110109),” 2018, 24×32
Photography has come to be seen as a powerful, democratizing technology, providing the average person with an opportunity to shape art and visual culture in unprecedented ways. At its inception, photographs were seen as faithful mechanical representations of reality, more so than painting, but eventually, the world has learned to understand that this is not the case. A photograph is not an objective picture of the world, but rather a curated view. The one who holds the camera chooses where to point it, what to include or exclude, and how to frame and present the resulting image. Sepuya artfully acknowledges this by creating work that concedes the experiences, complexities and relationships that drive what we create and how we see. He knows all photographs carry traces of time—what came before and what’s coming after. He understands that identity is embedded in every image captured, and through his images, Sepuya invites us to look for clues with him to discover the complexities that might otherwise be left in the dark. (Lee Ann Norman)

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Black Mirror Study (_2110109), 2018, archival pigment print, 24×32

Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s “Dark Room” shows through May 26 at Document, 1709 West Chicago.

Aron Gent
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DOCUMENT is a commercial gallery located in Chicago that specializes in contemporary photography, film and media based art. The gallery has organized more than 30 solo exhibitions since its opening in 2011 and actively promotes the work of emerging national and international artists. Operating conjointly as a professional printmaking studio, DOCUMENT facilitates the production of works by artists from Chicago and the US. At this time we do not accept unsolicited submissions.