Photographs is the first major survey of the work of American artist Zoe Leonard. In addition to early works from the 1980s and 1990s, the MUMOK
exhibition will include Analogue, a series of 412 photographs produced between 1998 and 2009 in which Leonard investigates the changes in the urban landscape and economy resulting from a rapidly advancing globalization.
Born in 1961 in Liberty, New York, Leonard is counted among the most outstanding figures in the art world today; in recent years she has consistently participated in international exhibitions such as the Whitney Biennial and the documenta. The photographs Leonard has produced over the past twenty years reveal subtle discrepancies in our everyday life and draw out contradictions between nature and culture, the living and the transient, the local and the global. Both her color and black and white images feature a precise eye for details and for the overlooked.
Zoe Leonard is concerned with the language of photography in its various genres: aerial photography, scientific documentation, snapshots, fashion photography or documentation of exhibition display. She alternates point of view, perspective and distance by turning and shifting her gaze, and presents the photograph as a subjective document. Leonard also subverts the conventions of traditional processing and printing; she does not crop or retouch her photographs. Instead, her photographs always bear traces of their genesis. By incorporating the black border of the negative into the print, and leaving the spots and marks from dust, scratches or flaws in the negative, her prints allow the photographic process to remain visible.
Leonard directs her gaze at cities, railway infrastructures and Niagara Falls, she brings trees, fences, wax anatomical models as well as fashion shows and museum displays into focus. Her photographs confront us with situations that are not staged; they attentively remind us of our everyday life and occurrences in it that we take for granted, questioning thereby our viewing habits and conventions of perception.
Zoe Leonard is usually familiar with the places where she takes her pictures. She photographs in nature and on city streets and also in places where objects are on display: in museums of natural sciences or museums of art, in shop windows or at fashion shows.
It is therefore not surprising that for Zoe Leonard the way in which her own work is displayed is also an essential part of her artistic practice. When installing her photographs, the artist is always mindful of the conditions of the respective space. Photographs, which was originally initiated by the Fotomuseum Winterthur, has been adapted and supplemented by the artist for this presentation in Vienna. Leonard worked closely with Michalka to realize the exhibition within the spaces and context of the MUMOK.
Zoe Leonard was born in 1961 and lives and works in New York City. She has exhibited internationally since 1990, including recent solo presentations at Dia: Beacon (2008, ongoing), Dia at the Hispanic Society, New York (2008), the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2007); Villa Arson, Nice, France (2007); Philadelphia Museum of Art (1998); Kunsthalle Basel (1997); the Vienna Secession (1997) and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (1993). She has participated in numerous group exhibitions including documenta IX (1992), documenta XII (2007), and Whitney Biennials in 1993 and 1997.
In 2007, Leonard was the subject of a 20-year career retrospective at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, in Winterthur, Switzerland, which traveled to the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid in 2008, the Neue Pinakothek, Munich (2009) and the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (2009).