NEW YORK, NY.-
All The Queens Men (Daylight
, October 2013) is a decade-long photographic project in which American photographer Katie Murray explores the rites, rituals, and relationships of men. Walking the fine line between fiction and non-fiction, Murray creates a hauntingly beautiful narrative book that navigates the psychology of men through an exploration of portraiture and place. Intimate portraits and enigmatic landscapes deliberately mix fact and fiction, past and present, myth and reality. Made in the New York City borough of Queens with men of Murray's family and community, All The Queens Men reveals intergenerational patterns of behavior played out over the course of many years in domestic and urban settings. Murray exposes relationships that are simultaneously submissive and antagonistic, mirroring the conflict that is at play in these men.
In her accompanying essay in the book, art historian and author Maria Antonella Pelizzari writes "... Murray collaborates with her subjects to show the paradox of their lives, scratching the surface of cultural hypocrisy and showing failed rituals, moments of disconnect and disengagement. Her bright color photographs retrace Diane Arbus' ambiguous portraits of contemporary civilization and I cannot help but think of Arbus' Christmas tree as I look at Murray's ribbon decorations: a solitary man holds a wine glass, meditating, the viewer presumes, over the consumption of a sacred and secular Christmas party."
The boys and men Murray engages with to create her portraits are both aggressive and vulnerable. We see a tender yet strong moment between a father and son, an innocent young boy dressed for Holy Communion with palms in prayer position, a man standing in front of a fallen tree trunk brandishing a bare six pack chest with tattoos, a circle of boys participating in a strange rite of passage or initiation, and three men in silhouette meeting in a darkened living room suggesting something sinister is at play. Murray's exquisite use of light brings a surreal quality to her work elevating her subjects to mythical symbols of boyhood and manhood. The light is used with similar effect in her landscapes; row houses bathed in magic hour light with a flock of birds crossing the sky, a neighborhood blanketed in snow, a whimsical night scene with toilet paper streamers flowing in the breeze all of which transcend the banal and are elevated through light to the extraordinary.
The trauma of 9/11 is embedded in the subtext of the narrative of All The Queens Men. Like most New Yorkers, Murray was deeply affected by the attack on 9/11. It fostered in her both a powerful sense of loss as well as a deeper sense of belonging to her community scarred by the event. The aftermath of 9/11 "made America aware of its vulnerability," explains Murray, "and awoke in me a desire to explore this feeling further in these men." The stark melancholic mood of the book is undeniably linked to the residual effects of a post 9/11 New York and America.
Katie Murray is a photographer and video artist. She received her BFA in 1997 from the School of Visual Arts, and her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2000. She has had solo exhibitions of her photographic and video works at World Class Boxing in Miami, The Home Front Gallery, White Columns and Jen Bekman Gallery in New York City. This fall, her latest video work Gazelle will be included in Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity at the Photographers Gallery in London, accompanied by a book of the same title. Murray has exhibited in group exhibitions at venues including Kate Werble Gallery, International Center of Photography, the Queens Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, and Yale Art Gallery. Murray's work has been reviewed in The New Yorker, Village Voice, The New York Times, and French Photo, among other publications. Honors and Awards include a NYFA grant, a New York State Residents Grant for Excellence in Photography, the Robin Forbes Memorial Award in Photography, and the Barry Cohen Award for Excellence in Art. Murray's work has been published in various magazines, books, and catalogues. She currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, School of Visual Arts, and Hunter College.
All The Queens Men will have a pre-launch in New York City on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the site of the second annual Photoville, along with Daylight's three other fall 2013 books by Sarah Christianson (Homeplace), Sara Macel (May the Road Rise to Meet You), and Henry Jacobson (Postcards Home). There will be a panel discussion with the four artists entitled Family Matters: Photography In Close Relation from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m., followed by a book party that also serves to celebrate Daylight's 10th Anniversary. The events are in partnership with Photoville and the Brooklyn Book Festival. The party will feature live music by New Jersey based group Thomas Wesley Stern.