Over the past three decades, Zoe Leonard has probed the conditions of image-making and the politics of display, merging photography, sculpture, and installation in her acclaimed conceptual practice. This fall, Hauser & Wirth will present a selection from her expansive photographic project ‘Al río / To the River’ (2016–2022) on the second floor of the gallery’s 22nd Street location.
Since 2016, Leonard has been photographing the 1,200-mile stretch of the Rio Grande, as it’s called in the US, or the Río Bravo, as it’s known in Mexico, that is used to demarcate the border between the two countries. Following the river’s course, Leonard explores the conflation of, and boundaries between, nature and politics as they manifest in the landscape of the US / Mexico border. ‘Al río / To the River’ debuted at Mudam, Luxembourg in February, and will travel to the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris this fall. Hauser & Wirth’s exhibition will include excerpts from this epic body of work, highlighting images that will be on view for the first time in the United States.
‘Al río / To the River’ is structured through ‘passages,’ sequences of photographs that impart a sense of movement. Pointing to the dynamism of the river, Leonard groups images so that the topography and communities depicted invite associations and interpretations from the viewer. The artist deconstructs the dichotomy between the river’s power and beauty as a body of water and its current designated role as a political boundary. In this way, Leonard expands our understanding of both realities and of the role photography plays in constructing them.
The exhibition, Zoe Leonard ~ Excerpts from ‘Al río / To the River’ will be on view from September 8 through October 29,, 2022 at Hauser & Wirth, 542 West 22nd Street, Chelsea, NYC.
Save the date and register for In Conversation: Zoe Leonard and curator Nadiah Rivera Fellah on ‘Al río / To the river’ on September 10th at 1:00pm.
About the artist ~ New York-based artist Zoe Leonard (b.1961) 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. She lives and works in New York.
‘Al río / To the River’ is accompanied by a two-volume catalogue featuring a selection of photographs in order, as the river flows, from west to east. Published by Hatje Cantz and designed by Joseph Logan in close collaboration with Leonard, the catalogue includes texts by over twenty contributors from a variety of fields – including art, art history, fiction, journalism, music and poetry – chosen by the artist and editor Tim Johnson to approach the river in their own right. On 10 September, Hauser & Wirth New York will host Leonard and Cleveland Museum of Art associate curator and contributor to the publication, Nadiah Riverah Fellah, in the 22nd Street gallery. The talk will be introduced by editor Tim Johnson, and touch upon on the artist’s practice and the history of borderlands photography.