Posts Tagged ‘beverly-glenn copeland’

Culture Vulture: Deana Lawson and Wu Tsang at the Guggenheim

August 4, 2021

Sunday afternoon expedition to the Guggenheim to check out both the Deana Lawson show (Jenna Wortham’s profile in the New York Times Magazine had whetted my appetite) and the Wu Tsang film installation Anthem, featuring the ethereally gorgeous music and visage of Beverly Glenn-Copeland. The latter dominates the rotunda as soon as you walk in and accompanies you throughout your visit.

The Deana Lawson show on the top floor displays her winning submissions to the 2020 Hugo Boss Prize.

Lawson’s best-known work centers on intimate portraits of black people in deceptively casual environments which, upon closer examination, are scrupulously staged to evoke richness and simplicity, personality and mystery. This show has a different conceptual agenda, which the museum website describes this way: “The aesthetics and intergenerational connectivity of the Black diaspora guide Lawson’s choice of subject matter. Each of her works takes its place in an overarching project, cohering into what she terms ‘an ever-expanding mythological extended family.’ Close examination of her compositions reveals the presence of portals, adornments, and devotional objects that evoke the proximity of an unseen realm.” What that means practically is that her images — some of which are photographs taken by her, others are found images that she has altered in various ways — will often juxtapose a large image with a smaller inset, which can be as mundane as a 4×6 printed snapshot stuck into the side of the frame or as sophisticated as a hologram embedded in the … it’s funny, I keep wanting to call them canvases, even though none of them are paintings.

In addition to the snapshot — a picture of a woman at home, contrasted with the image of a galaxy — note the mirrored frame, which not only reflects the viewer but bounces a rectangle of light onto the floor, literally reaching out to enclose the spectator. And when you pull back, you notice in the corner a crystal working its quiet invisible magic on this corner of the room. A different kind of portal.

The coolest piece is a free-standing hologram called Torus, which shifts shape and color depending where you’re standing.

Satisfied art hounds repaired to a Fifth Avenue bench to compare notes.

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