Clifford Prince King: We Used to Lay Together

August 23–October 14, 2021
Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery

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Collect We Used to Lay Together exhibition catalog, Contact Sheet 213

Light Work is thrilled to welcome patrons back into our exhibition spaces for in-person self and staff-guided tours, openings, and artist talks. In reopening, Light Work pledges strict adherence to the most up-to-date COVID-19 safety protocols in order to protect patrons, artists, students, and staff. Gallery hours, effective Monday, August 23, 2021, are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Clifford Prince King is a self-taught queer Black photographer from Arizona. The images in this exhibition focus on King’s life in Los Angeles. In his work, King’s lifestyle and experiences are starting points to explore desire, intimacy, and day-to-day life with HIV. King’s images chronicle himself and others located in lamp-lit domestic settings. We see a brotherhood of men enacting moments of domestic bliss, nude bodies in the moments before or after a sexual encounter, and the side effects and routine of living with HIV. After King’s diagnosis, he focused anew on understanding the legacy of the AIDS crisis and the artists who responded to it. He took refuge in the words and images of those who once shared an experience like his own, and his work evokes that history while developing a language all his own. In talking about his practice, King returns time and again to the life-affirming aspects of his relationships. In We Used to Lay Together, King has compiled a body of work that explores affection in all its varieties―the simple parts of intimacy, often overlooked but universal.

Related Programming

An opening reception and gallery talk with Clifford Prince King will be held on Thursday, September 16, at 6 p.m. in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery. Signed copies of his exhibition catalog, Contact Sheet 213, will be available after the talk. Queer Moments: Selections from the Light Work Collection is concurrently on view in the Hallway Gallery. The reception is free and open to the public.

About the Artist

Clifford Prince King documents his intimate relationships in traditional, everyday settings that evoke his experiences as a queer Black man. In these instances, communion begins to morph into an offering of memory. In this way, he honors and celebrates the reality of layered personhood. King has exhibited his photographs nationally and internationally. Public collections holding his work include the Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Arts, and Minneapolis Institute of Art. King was runner-up for the Robert Giard Emerging Artist Grant in 2020 and among The British Journal of Photography‘s “Ones to Watch” in 2022. He has recently exhibited work at Jeffrey Dietch Gallery (Los Angeles), Higher Pictures (New York City), Leslie Lohman Museum (New York City), MASS MoCA, Marc Selwyn Gallery (Beverly Hills), and Stars Gallery (Los Angeles). Publications carrying King’s images as commissioned work and in features include Aperture, Dazed, i-D, T Magazine, The New York Times, and Vogue.