Light, Time, and Emotion: “Trust Me” @ the Whitney Museum

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Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC // August 19, 2023 – February 01, 2024

DD’Angelo Lovell Williams, Elysian, 2018

D’Angelo Lovell Williams, Nah, 2018D’Angelo Lovell Williams, Nah, 2018

Genesis Báez, Crossing Time, 2022Genesis Báez, Crossing Time, 2022

Lola Flash, 4 ray, 1991Lola Flash, 4 ray, 1991

Laura Aguilar, Plush Pony #2, 1992Laura Aguilar, Plush Pony #2, 1992

Barbara Hammer, Barbara & Terry, 1972Barbara Hammer, Barbara & Terry, 1972

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (collapsed architecture, couple buttfucking), 1979Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (collapsed architecture, couple buttfucking), 1979

Moyra Davey, Trust Me, 2011Moyra Davey, Trust Me, 2011

Muriel Hasbun, X post facto (6.7), 2009–13Muriel Hasbun, X post facto (6.7), 2009–13

Dakota Mace, Béésh Łigaii II, 2022Dakota Mace, Béésh Łigaii II, 2022

Drawn from the Whitney’s collection, Trust Me brings together photographic works that invite shared emotional experience. The artists in the exhibition embrace intuition and indeterminacy as part of their creative process and recognize that vulnerability, usually associated with powerlessness and exposure, can play a role in forging connection. Depicting familial and ancestral bonds, friendship, romantic partnership, and other networks of influence and exchange, these photographs make such connection visible—in the image and often beyond it—by evoking the overlapping lives and loves of the works’ creators, viewers, and caretakers.

The exhibition features an intergenerational group of artists: Laura Aguilar, Genesis Báez, Alvin Baltrop, Jenny Calivas, Moyra Davey, Lola Flash, Barbara Hammer, Muriel Hasbun, Dakota Mace, Mary Manning, and D’Angelo Lovell Williams. Many of their images do not include people but instead offer reflections on everyday surroundings and experiences, with objects often representing intimate aspects of the artists’ lives. Precisely staged or in response to chance encounters, these images encourage careful attention. As artist and writer Lydia Okrent has said about Manning’s photographs, such work “emboldens available tenderness,” kindling through the image something already present in the viewer.

In addition to taking up themes of vulnerability, the artists in the exhibition have chosen a precarious medium. Photographs emerge through combinations of light, chemicals, time, and chance, and yet these same elements can also push an image past legibility. Many of the artists draw parallels between material and emotional contingency, and welcome accidents, imperfections, and the unexpected. Gambling on the power of images to carry deep feeling, the works in Trust Me ultimately offer space for expanded capacity, reciprocity, and learning.

The exhibition is organized by Kelly Long, Senior Curatorial Assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

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