521 W 21st Street
NEW YORK—The Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Zoe Leonard, opening on 21 March, 2003, at 521 West 21st Street. The exhibition will remain on view through 19 April and will consist of a series of recent photographs, a sculpture composed of found suitcases and a wall installation of found postcards.
At the heart of Leonard’s recent work is an affinity for the unexpected beauty of discarded objects and undistinguished places. The photographs on view draw our attention to the landscape of ungentrified America: bricked-up windows, tree roots pushing through cement, fruit trees in winter, leafless but still bearing fruit, a derelict house about to be hauled away by a pick-up truck. Seen within the larger context of Leonard’s recent work, these images are further attempts to archive the relics of unknown personal stories, the remnants of what was once charged with personal significance. However, the photographs transcend this near-documentary impulse to put into play a larger set of ambiguities and contradictions. Together, they speak of thresholds and barriers, stasis and movement, fertility and barrenness, exuberance and dereliction.
Related to the images on view is 1961, a sculpture composed of 41 blue suitcases extending in a line across the main room. The piece echoes both the emotional resonance and formal restraint of the photographs, alluding to minimalist sculpture while also suggesting travel or displacement. Also on view is a series of near-abstract photographs of city sidewalks littered with chewing gum, turning our attention downwards to the texture and color of the pavement.
Finally, a wall installation of vintage postcards focuses on roads and bridges, overpasses and tunnels. Picking up on motifs and moods intimated in the photographs and sculpture, these found images of architectural openings and passages, natural and man-made links between people and places, extends Leonard’s exploration of liminal spaces.
Zoe Leonard has been exhibiting since 1979 and her work has been included in exhibitions such as the 1992 Documenta and the 1993 and 1997 Whitney Biennials. She has had one-person shows at the Vienna Secession, Austria (1997), the Centre National de la Photographie, Paris (1998) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1998), among other venues. She lives and works in New York.