Last week, we introduced you to the amazing work of artist and photographer Lorna Simpson. Today we will continue the conversation.
Ms. Simpson became well-known in the mid-1980s for her large-scale photograph-and-text works that confronted and challenged narrow, conventional views of gender, identity, culture, history and memory. The images she created featured the African-American woman as a visual point of departure.
By the late 1980s Ms. Simpson’s work was displayed in solo exhibitions at the some of the world’s most prestigious fine art museums and galleries. In case you missed it, here is the link to our first post: Brooklyn Legends – Introducing Lorna Simpson. This week, we will spotlight her career during the 1990s. During this time she created large multi-panel photographs, printed on felt, which showcased sights of public – yet unseen – sexual encounters.
I imagine you are probably looking at the three images above and thinking, how do they connect? What intimate secret does each space hold? Ms. Simpson gives us the answer in the text panels that accompany each installation. Can you imagine overhearing each one of these conversations?
Text Panel #1 – The Clock Tower
He can hear sighs and conversations of people collecting in the hall waiting for elevators, heading out of the building, the telephone rings. Good, I hoped that you were still here. Yeah, well I thought that it might be you. Where do you want to meet? Well, they are still under construction on the 15th floor and the union guys are out of there by now and I think they have finished a few of the offices with good views. Wait a second…I don’t hear the muffled power tools. Want to go there? Sure, I have not been down there as yet. What about the rooftop conference room? Was there anything scheduled there today? I don’t think so, but we will have to take the stairs to get up there…the west staircase is always an option a little later if you still have work to do. Naw, I’m almost finished. What time do you have? 8:20. I’ll meet you in the hall at a quarter to. Okay.
Text Panel #2 – The Rock
Driving all day long, has induced a hypnotic state upon both of us. It is definitely time to pull over. I recognize the state park that we are now in the middle of, and can endure a few more minutes of this drive in order to find the same spot I went to last time I was here. Hoping that this search will not turn into another journey, since I didn’t make any mental notes of the surroundings during my last visit, I’m ill prepared, and not really wanting to appear too familiar with the area. I make an effort this time to commit this trip to memory. But here we are, sick of driving. We get out of the car and start to hike to find a spot and it will probably replace the last one, completely. Haven’t seen any week-end hikers for a while and since we are miles away from any rest stops it seems plausible that we will not be patrolled. I asked, How’s this? Is it secluded enough for you?
Text Panel #3 – The Bed
It is late, decided to have a quick nightcap at the hotel having checked in earlier that morning. Hotel security is curious and knocks on the door to inquire as to what’s going on, given our surroundings we suspect that maybe we have broken “the too many dark people in the room code.” More privacy is attained depending on what floor you are on. If you are in the penthouse suite you could be pretty much assured of your privacy, if you were on the 6th or 10th floor there would be a knock on the door.
This was indeed a busy time for Ms. Simpson. She became the first African-American woman to exhibit at the Venice Biennale – a major contemporary art exhibition held once every two years (in odd years) in Venice, Italy. For such a talented woman, this was truly a defining moment in her career.
Next week, we will look at highlights of Ms. Simpson’s present work. As always, we welcome your feedback. Please take a few moments to let us know what you think. Thank you for spending this time with us.
Have a great weekend.
Lorna Simpson – LSimpsonstudio.com
Lorna Simpson – Wikipedia.org
Lorna Simpson – Text Panels for each image – LSimpsonstudio.com
Lorna Simpson Photos – Biography.com, TADL Short Shot, ddfr.tv and Aleim.com