|A closeup of a photo installation by Lorna Simpson at the Brooklyn Museum|
|Lorna Simpson's installation of vintage photo booth pictures|
On one wall of the exhibition space, tiny vintage photo booth pictures of African American women are displayed in wooden frames, and spaced out so that when the viewer stands back, they almost look like a cloud. There are also small abstract ink pieces painted by the artist floating in between the photographs which are meant to represent the mystery of who these women are and what their lives were like. They are compared to that feeling of curiosity and loss one has when going through an old photo album and finding bits of paper and glue where pictures have been torn out. What piece of the puzzle is missing?
On the opposite wall hangs May June July August, '57/'09, a series of 123 pin-up style photo portraits featuring two women and a man. "Simpson juxtaposes images of a young African American woman (and an occasional male figure) who posed for pinups in Los Angeles in 1957 with self portraits in which the artist acts as a doppelganger for the model. She replicates with precise detail the poses and settings of the original photographs, arranging the work in grid patterns. Linking the historical photographs with her staged responses creates a fictionalized narrative in which the two characters appear to be linked across history in a shared identity or destiny."
|'57/'09 photographs of the artist and unknown model. Lorna Simpson wears black top and white skirt.|
|Lorna Simpson's '57/'09|
Both installations raise some fascinating questions about lost histories and reinvention. When looking at an unidentified photograph, one can view it through the lens of loss and displacement or as an object that is teeming with the possibilities of new stories waiting to be told, and new meaning and context waiting to be created.
Lorna Simpson: Gathered is on display in the
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum until August 21st.