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Reception: April 19th, 5-8pm

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DOCUMENT is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Greg Stimac in gallery 2. The exhibit opens on Friday, April 19th with a reception from 5-8pm and continues through June 1st, 2019.

“In Amulet, Greg Stimac presents a new body of photographic prints alongside his series of sculptures made from rifle-stocks. The imagery depicted in the new photographs—which recall Rorschach tests—reference the earth’s masses of land and bodies of water, and represent a kind of experimental cartography. In both the photographs and sculptures, Stimac creates, with simple moves applied to familiar subjects, something surprising and unfamiliar. Amulet offers a particular chance to reflect on the intimate proximity of processes that are typically experienced as foreign to one another. Namely: mundane, everyday thinking and wonder and imagination. In Stimac’s hands, rifle-stocks and landmasses—icons of purely material, modern existence—take on the semblance of something whose nature lies instead in imaginative reflection. 

 
Upon viewing the work: you look, and you find something…and you also find something else, something more. Here, the gun is always at the same time a body; and the landmass, a monster. An elemental creature, a whimsical silhouette, a haunting mask, an erotic organ—for Stimac, these can all be names for the same thing.” Scott Cowan

Mary Helena Clark

Mary Helena Clark (born 1983, USA) lives and works in central New York. Her work has been exhibited and screened nationally and internationally, including presentations at the Swedish Film Institute (Stockholm), The Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago), the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago), the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH), Anthology Film Archives (New York), the Yerba Buena Center (San Francisco), the National Gallery of Art (Washington) and at the New York, London and Toronto International Film Festivals. She has curated film programs for Altman Siegel Gallery, NYC, and The Nightingale, Chicago, among other venues.

Ligature, installation view Jan 6-Feb 17, 2018

Ligature, installation view Jan 6-Feb 17, 2018

Ligature, installation view Jan 6-Feb 17, 2018

Ligature, installation view Jan 6-Feb 17, 2018

Ligature, installation view Jan 6-Feb 17, 2018

Ligature, installation view Jan 6-Feb 17, 2018

Ligature, installation view Jan 6-Feb 17, 2018

Ligature, installation view Jan 6-Feb 17, 2018

The Palm at the End of the Mind, installation view Dec 11-Jan 23, 2016

Untitled (Meisner technique), film still, 2015

The Palm at the End of the Mind, installation view Dec 11-Jan 23, 2016

The Palm at the End of the Mind, installation view Dec 11-Jan 23, 2016

The Palm at the End of the Mind, installation view Dec 11-Jan 23, 2016

Untitled (Meisner technique), film still, 2015

 

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Paul Mpagi Sepuya Mines the Queer
History of the Portrait Studio

What are the conditions for making portrait photography? These days, if you’ve got a phone and a face, you’re all set. Historically, though, taking a portrait meant having a studio. For much of the nineteenth century, the length of a camera’s exposure required sitters to hold their poses for as long as a minute; if they moved, they’d be rendered as a blur. The earliest known portrait (also the first selfie and the first scene staged for the camera) was made in 1840, by Hippolyte Bayard, a Parisian pioneer of the medium, whose rival was Louis Daguerre. Bayard posed as a corpse, in part because the process that he had invented entailed keeping still for twelve minutes. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, he spent the rest of his life shooting buildings.) Daguerreotypes, on the other hand, became wildly popular, and studios proliferated all over the world, from France to Liberia, where Augustus Washington, who was born a free man in New Jersey to a formerly enslaved man and an Asian woman, opened one, in 1853. By the mid-twentieth century, a portrait could be shot in a flash anywhere, but the private realm of the studio retained its allure.

“Model Study (0X5A3973),” 2018.

 

“Darkcloth (_2000142),” 2016.

The historical intimacies of the portrait studio and the agency of a black man behind the camera are among the subjects of the impressive pictures in Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s new show, “The Conditions,” at Team Gallery, through April 13th. The series continues an exploration that the thirty-six-year-old photographer, who is based in L.A., began as an undergrad at N.Y.U., from which he graduated in 2004. His subjects are typically lovely queer men—himself included—who pose alone or together, naked or clothed, in puzzle-like compositions, accompanied by such photo-studio staples as clamps, tripods, and lenses. Black and brown velvet backdrops are draped behind bodies, their lush expanses playing off—and standing in for—dark skin, although the bodies that Sepuya eyes are neither exclusively black nor always male. Mirrors and sliced segments of printed photos are incorporated into the pictures, heightening their visual complexity. Sometimes portions of the figures are cropped out of the frame, leaving hands and arms center stage, unencumbered by bodies. The results can appear so kaleidoscopic that it’s hard to believe that they’re not collages.

All of this fragmentation serves a conceptual purpose and also a compositional one, underscoring the marginalized position that L.G.B.T.Q. figures have occupied for most of art history. Sepuya’s frankly queer eye also unlocks a hidden history of the studio as a safe space for free expression. The social stigma of gay desire in the age before Stonewall may be unimaginable now, but, not so long ago, pictures like “Drop Scene (0X5A8165)”—in which the artist steadies his camera against another man’s naked haunch—were distributed surreptitiously. The modernist fashion photographer George Platt Lynes believed that his most important contribution to art was his male nudes, but they were also a secret that he kept until his death, in 1955. In an interview last year, Sepuya spoke of his interest in “queer modernism” like Lynes’s and said that he hoped that his own work would lead viewers “to think about the structures of photography, portraiture, and of queer sociality in new ways.”

“A Portrait (0X5A6109),” 2017.

 

“A Portrait (0X5A2258),” 2017.

 

What is perhaps the most tender portrait in “The Conditions” is one of the simplest. A beautiful young man is seated, with a dancer’s grace, in front of a black backdrop, in a white shirt and a black skirt, unless it is simply the backdrop behind him wound chicly around his waist. The fabrics merge too seamlessly to discern. The figure, who has pale skin and a curly mop of black hair, coupled with holes in his socks, suggests an urchin straight out of Caravaggio. Like all of Sepuya’s increasingly sophisticated work, the reference unites ideas of identity and mechanics. The Italian painter was not only a master of the homoerotic but an artist whose studio tools likely included a mirror, a lens, and dark fabric—the conditions of a camera obscura.

“Studio (_1000021),” 2018.

 

“A Portrait (0X5A8325),” 2018.

 
Andrea K. Scott is the art editor of Goings On About Town and has profiled the artists Cory Arcangel and Sarah Sze for the magazine.

 


Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s “Darkroom Mirror” (2017) in his show “The Conditions” at Team Gallery.

New York Art Galleries: What to See Right Now

March 28the, 2019| by Martha Schwendener

Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Through April 13. Team Gallery, 83 Grand Street, Manhattan; 212-279-9219, teamgal.com

Paul Mpagi Sepuya is experiencing a flush of success right now, and his new show — “The Conditions,” at Team Gallery — demonstrates that it is well deserved. His work appears on the cover of Artforum’s March issue and will be included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial . Mr. Sepuya is not an overnight sensation, however; over a decade of working, exhibiting and returning to art school to study with the great photographer Catherine Opie at the University of California, Los Angeles helped him to arrive at a distinctive and timely amalgam of portraiture and conceptual photography.

Mr. Sepuya’s photographs are like visual puzzles. He appears in many of them, but in fragmented form and usually with a camera in hand. Some of the works show multiple hands holding cameras, suggesting that authorship is always some sort of collaboration. Pushing that out further, you, the viewer are reflected against the dark backdrops in the picture and if you photograph Mr. Sepuya’s works (as I of course did), your hand and camera end up nestled surprisingly amid the gesturing fingers of him and his subjects.

“The Conditions” could refer to lighting, studio setups, or social conditions. Mr. Sepuya’s photographs have often been categorized as “queer” (that is, within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender cosmos), but they feel more universal to me: Multifarious shades of melanin are represented, and he has included images of women in this show. And while the history of representing bodies in photography — particularly nude ones — is fraught, Mr. Sepuya charges intrepidly into the mire, offering what feel like new, smart conclusions on how to represent power or vulnerability, as well as the unwavering desire to look at such images. MARTHA SCHWENDENER

Full coverage here: Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Press for The Conditions at Team Gallery (March 7-April 13, 2019)

Owner
Aron Gent
aron@documentspace.com
Director
Sibylle Friche
sibylle@documentspace.com
Gallery and Print Studio Assistant
Renata Cruz Lara Guerra
info@documentspace.com

Gallery hours:
Tuesday-Saturday: 11am-6pm

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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 40 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.