Mark McKnight Receives 2020 Light Work Photobook Award

With great pleasure, we announce that Los Angeles-based artist Mark McKnight is the recipient of the annual 2020 Light Work Photobook Award for his monograph, Heaven is a Prison. Loose Joints and Light Work will co-publish the book this year. Light Work gives the Photobook Award annually to an artistic project that deserves international attention. As in all Light Work programs, in selecting the artists for this recognition, we seek to highlight emerging and underrepresented artists from diverse backgrounds. As winner of the Photobook Award, McKnight’s book will be the featured Book Collectors’ selection in Light Work’s exclusive 2021 Annual Subscription program.

“Mark McKnight’s Heaven is a Prison is a provocatively beautiful debut monograph that explores the sexuality and vulnerability of queer bodies,” said Light Work Director Shane Lavalette. “McKnight’s dark, silvery portraits made in the harsh sun and shadow of the desert landscape evoke the intimate connection between pain and desire.”

Mark McKnight
Heaven is a Prison
Loose Joints/Light Work, 2020
132 pages, 60 tritone plates
ISBN 978-1-912719-15-0
First Edition
Signed by the artist

Heaven is a Prison is an exploration of intimacy with and within the austere terrain of Southern California’s high desert. McKnight describes a queer otherworld that is at once utopic and purgatorial–occupied by a solitary pair of copulating, Sisyphean protagonists that appear both liberated and bound by their intimacies and the severe expanse in which they are depicted. Divided into chapters, the poetic sequences in this book oscillate between the literal and the figurative, between distance and communion, and between violence and affection. Claustrophobic, horizonless landscapes are coupled with images of ethereal clouds and tangled bodies that are simultaneously sculptural, shrewd, and tender. Through his synonymous description of landscape and body, McKnight suggests metaphor, pointing at both as vehicles–towards transcendence, bondage, beauty, and abjection–while also revealing them as two sides of the same coin.

Mark McKnight is a Los Angeles-based artist who has exhibited and published work throughout the United States and in Europe. Recent solo exhibitions include Mark McKnight (Aperture Foundation, 2020) and in this temporarily prevailing landscape (Klaus von Nichtssagend, 2020). His work has been written about in Aperture, Art in America, and BOMB Magazine. Mark is the recipient of the 2019 Aperture Portfolio Prize, the 2020 Light Work Photo Book Award, and a 2020 Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant. He is currently represented by Klaus von Nichtssagend, New York and Park View/Paul Soto, Los Angeles.

Pre-order a first edition SIGNED copy of our 2021 Book Collectors Offer. Order a signed copy of Heaven is a Prison by Mark McKnight and you will also receive a 2021 subscription to Contact Sheet (a $115 value) for only $75!

Make the Now Count: Support Light Work on #GivingTuesdayNow

#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity set for May 5, 2020, as an emergency response to the unprecedented needs that COVID-19 has caused.

In celebration of this day of giving, we are reaching out for support. For more than 40 years, Light Work has been a leading artist-run organization, providing much-needed support to emerging and under-represented artists working in the field of photography and digital imaging—many of our artists have had a significant and ongoing influence on art and photography. With the safety of our staff and community as our top priority, we made the difficult but important decision to close our doors to the public on March 13. Over the last 52 days, Light Work staff and curators have worked diligently to reimagine new and creative ways to remain engaged. We are grateful for the incredible response we have received for our online programs. Yet, even with our hard-won triumphs, there is much work ahead and inevitable financial hurdles.

Please consider participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, lend your support through the purchase of an exclusive signed limited-edition print, a photobook, a subscription to our award-winning periodical Contact Sheet, or enrollment in one of our many online Lab workshops. Enter the coupon code “TOGETHER25” at checkout to take advantage of our 25% discount on all items in our online shop. This offer expires May 17 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Your support—during this uncertain time especially—helps us continue to deliver valuable experiences to our artists-in-residence, gallery patrons, Lab members, and community-wide photography family.

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