Photos Courtesy of Walker Art Center
A solo exhibition of artist Liz Deschenes opening this month at the Walker extends the possibilities of the photographic medium in minimalist, conceptual directions.
One look at an Instagram feed and it’s quite clear that Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment—that “it” instant caught on film (or pixels)—continues to exert a strong influence on the collective visual consciousness. There’s a reason he is considered the father of photojournalism. But a new large-scale, site-specific installation at the Walker Art Center upends our expectations of the photographic image, drawing out the moment and transforming it into something more ephemeral.
New York–based artist Liz Deschenes, whose body of work reflects a profound interest in the process of photography, traverses the outer edges of the medium, creating installations that incorporate the elements of image-making alongside references to the institution’s temporal and terrestrial footprint. Later this month, her installation, Gallery 7, takes over Medtronic Gallery on the seventh floor of the Walker.
“One of her first gestures is to eliminate all temporary architecture in the space and open it up to the flood of natural light,” says Walker curator Eric Crosby. Deschenes likens the stripped-down space to a camera’s viewfinder, an apt metaphor for her favored medium. “Her specific choice of materials is responsive to lighting in the gallery.”
For the year-long exhibition, Deschenes populates the light-infused space with a series of standing panels. One set of panels is made up of different tones of blue, a nod to the Blue Wool Scale used by conservators to determine how long something can or should be exposed to light. Another set of panels, monochromes made of photographic paper exposed to the ambient light of the night sky and then coated in a reflective toner, offers another entry point to the artist’s ongoing inquiry into the nature of the photographic image.
“With the monochromes, you actually see your own reflection in the work that brings in elements of movement and time,” says Crosby. “It brings an aliveness to the work.”
Opens Nov. 22. Liz Deschenes: Gallery 7, Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600, walkerart.org.