MUNICH.- American Zoe Leonard (born in 1961 in Liberty, New York), whose works have been exhibited several times at the documenta and the Whitney Biennial, is one of the most exceptional artists of her generation. For more than twenty years her photographs have reflected her cerebral roaming combined with carefully considered observations. On her forays through cityscapes and the countryside she sifts through natural and cultural environments, urban spaces and museum institutions, searching for signs that reveal something about our social structures and their inarticulated contradictions.
The focus of Leonard interest is primarily on inconspicuous or seemingly trivial objects and everyday scenes which with considerable tenacity and often with almost tender respect she penetrates in such a way as to let them speak for themselves. Her focuses in collecting and re-presentation is comparable to an archaeological dig with the help of which the artist attempts to appropriate and comprehend the world around her. In this way Leonard investigates intrinsically important topics of our times: she traces the consequences of globalisation on the way we see ourselves, mirrors our relationship to nature and history, questions our approach to sexuality and explores the subjects of colonialism, exploitation and expulsion. Her carefully minimalistic photographic style varies depending on the motif between black-and-white and colour or miniature and almost life-sized formats, as well as between pictures taken from an extreme perspective which can seem like snapshots and those which resemble scientific records due to their formal stringency and perfection.
From 1998 to 2007 Leonard worked on »Analogue«, a long-term photographic project that now comprises more than 400 pictures. Taking her immediate neighbourhood in Harlem, the Lower East Side in Manhattan and later Brooklyn as starting points, and including places she has visited in Europe and Africa, she traces the demise of industry in the digital era and the loss of specific, local peculiarities to a globalised world in which visual signs have become increasingly similar. In keeping with the photographic tradition of Eugène Atget, Walker Evans and Bernd and Hilla Becher, Leonard makes full use of the artistic possibilities offered by documentary photography to capture the relics of a changing world just before they disappear forever, to protect them for posterity and to do the same for the technology of analogue photography that has long since been superseded. »Analogue« was first shown to an international public at documenta 12 in Kassel. A portfolio of the same name with 40 dye-transfer prints will be exhibited in Munich.
The exhibition is the first retrospective of the artists work to be held in Europe and the only venue in Germany after being shown in Switzerland at the Fotomuseum Winterthur (Curator: Urs Stahel) and in Spain at the Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia (Curator: Lynne Coke). Zoe Leonard will be redesigning the show especially for the Pinakothek der Moderne to include some 120 works created in the past 25 years.
Curated for the Pinakothek der Moderne by Inka Graeve Ingelmann together with Zoe Leonard