American artist Deana Lawson (1979, Rochester, NY, USA) produces portraits of contemporary Black life that are meticulously staged yet profoundly intimate. Deana Lawson’s solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel (Basel, Switzerland) – which was postponed due to the social distancing measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic – takes place between 9 June and 11 October 2020. Centropy is one of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo's international collaborations.
For her participation at the 34th Bienal, Lawson was invited to travel to the northeastern state of Bahia, in Brazil. There she produced a set of photographs that portray people and places marked by the strong presence of cultures deriving from the African diaspora. These photographs are included in her exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel, the first presentation in Switzerland and the largest institutional exhibition of her work to date. The title of the exhibition, Centropy, the opposite of entropy, describes the electrification of matter that leads to creative renewal and order.
Sensitive to the stereotypes in Western, African and afro-descendant portraiture, Lawson predominantly explores topics such as physicality, identity, gender and family in a practice that is grounded in thorough research on blackness and representativeness. Mostly produced in domestic indoor spaces, these photographs are endowed with an ambiguous atmosphere, between the voyeuristic, the theatrical, the ethnographic and the activist, without being completely subsumed by one of these possible interpretations.
Learn more about the artist here.
Read the curatorial text by Elena Filipovic, director and curator of Kunsthalle Basel, here.
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).