Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC // August 19, 2023 – February 01, 2024
Moyra Davey, Trust Me, 2011
Muriel Hasbun, X post facto (6.7), 2009–13
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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