Working across photography, sculpture and installation, Zoe Leonard balances rigorous conceptualism with a distinctly personal vision. Her practice employs strategies of repetition, shifting perspectives and an array of printing processes to probe the politics of representation and display. Her photographic work proffers an invitation to contemplate the origins of the medium and its role in constructing social narratives from its inception to the present day. Leonard’s oeuvre spans a range of critical themes such as gender and sexuality, loss and mourning, migration and displacement, and the urban landscape. Across subjects, her work consistently encourages the viewer to reconsider the act of looking itself, drawing attention to observation as a complex, shifting act.
Conceived for Leonard’s 2018 retrospective, How to Take Good Pictures debuted at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and later traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. How to Take Good Pictures (2018) is closely related to Leonard’s How to Make Good Pictures, made two years prior. The works are composed of approximately 1,033 and 429 books respectively. In both works, copies of a vintage photography manual are arranged successively in chronological stacks of varying heights. Illuminating difference through repetition, the neat towers of books track the evolution of the publication over numerous editions and reprints.
Zoe Leonard, How To Take Good Pictures, 2018. 1,033 books; 77.5 x 14.9 x 825.2 cm.