GSD Rouse Visiting Artist Lecture: Zoe Leonard


Thursday, April 1, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:30pm



The artist Zoe Leonard will present a work in progress titled Al Rio/To the River and will engage in conversation about the project with curator José Esparza Chong Cuy.The artist Zoe Leonard will present a work in progress titled Al Rio/To the River, and will engage in conversation about the project with curator José Esparza Chong Cuy.

Al Rio/To the River is a large-scale photographic project centered on the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, in particular the 1,200-mile section of the river that is used to demarcate the international boundary between Mexico and the United States. Begun in 2016 and currently still a work in progress, the work engages in a sustained observation of the water, surrounding landscape, and built environment, including the towns, cities, factories, and infrastructure projects—dams, levees, bridges, irrigation trenches, pipelines, fences, gates, border checkpoints, and detention facilities—built alongside, over, and through the riverbed. Viewed from multiple vantage points, the river is considered as a natural feature, a water resource, a political border, and an inhabited region. The project considers layered histories, complex relationships, and the interconnectedness of life on both sides of the watershed.

The completed work will be exhibited Mudam, Luxembourg, and Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2022, with an accompanying publication.

New York-based artist Zoe Leonard balances rigorous conceptualism with a distinctly personal vision in her work, which merges photography, sculpture, and installation. By employing strategies of repetition, shifting perspectives, and a multitude of printing processes, Leonard’s practice probes the politics of representation and display. Leonard explores themes such as gender and sexuality, loss and mourning, migration, displacement, and the urban landscape. Her photography specifically invites us to contemplate the role that the medium plays in constructing history, and to consider the roots of contemporary photographic culture. More than its focus on any particular subject, however, Leonard’s work encourages the viewer to reconsider the act of looking itself, drawing attention to observation as a complex, ongoing process.

Leonard has exhibited extensively since the late 1980s, including solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2018), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2015), Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas (2013-14); Camden Arts Centre, London (2012); Museum Moderner Kunst Stifting Ludwig, Vienna (2009), Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2009); Reina Sofia, Madrid (2008), Dia: Beacon (2008); The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2007); Fotomuseum Wintherthur (2007); Philadelphia Museum of Art (1998); Kunsthalle Basel (1997); Secession, Vienna (1997), and The Renaissance Society, Chicago (1993). Group exhibitions include Documenta IX (1992), Documenta XII (2007), and Whitney Biennials in 1993, 1997 and 2014. Publications include Analogue (2007),  Zoe Leonard: Photographs (2008), You see I am here after all (2010), Available Light(2014), and Survey (2018).

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