Mudam Luxembourg Press Release
Over three decades Zoe Leonard (b. 1961, Liberty, New York) has gained critical acclaim for her work. Rooted in photography, Leonard’s practice extends to spatial installation and sculpture. Her art is above all the result of a finely honed observation, in which the documentary approach of photography combines with the physical and bodily act of looking. Migration and displacement, gender and sexuality, mourning and loss, cultural history and the tensions between the natural world and human-
This exhibition premieres Al río / To the River, a large-
Epic in scale, Al río / To the River results from close observation of both the natural and built environments shaped by and surrounding the river; from desert and mountains to cities, towns and small villages where daily life unfolds in tandem with agriculture, commerce, industry, policing, and surveillance. Leonard’s photographs focus on the accumulation of infrastructure and other constructions built into and alongside the river to control the flow of water, the passage of goods, and the movement of people: dams, levees, roads, irrigation canals, bridges, pipelines, fences and checkpoints. ‘The shifting nature of a river – which floods periodically, changes course and carves new channels – is at odds with the political task it is asked to perform,’ says Leonard.
Al río / To the River is structured in three parts, including a Prologue and a Coda. Each part engages with photographic language, moving fluidly from abstraction to documentary to digital surveillance imagery.
Working with a hand-
The work takes shape in passages, sequences of photographs that impart a sense of movement and emphasise actions as they unfold through time. Rather than pointing to one ‘decisive moment’ or one fixed meaning, these arrangements allow the viewer to create meaning through their own close looking.
The materiality of photographic process is foregrounded in Leonard’s prints. Each photograph is presented as a constructed image, taken from a certain point of view, and made material through processes of selection and printing.
In Al río / To the River, Leonard pushes back against reductive depictions of the border in mass media, and instead considers a multiplicity of powers and influences. These include commercial and industrial interests, cultural histories and familial connections that span the river, as well as the animals and plants of the region, increasingly under pressure from drought and climate change or the often contradictory human, constructions of the river itself, designated as a ‘wild and scenic’ waterway, a resource for water, and a political borderline.
© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2022. All Rights Reserved
Exhibition 26 February -
Photograph from Al río / To the River, 2016–2022. Approximately 500 gelatin silver prints, 40 C-