Queer Moments: Selections from the Light Work Collection

August 23–October 14, 2021
Jeffrey J. Hoone Gallery
Reception: Thurs, Sept. 16, 5-7pm

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. to 5 p.m.

Light Work presents Queer Moments: Selections from the Light Work Collection, with work by Laura Aguilar, Samantha Box, Jess T. Dugan, John Edmonds, Ajamu (Ikwe-Tyehimba), Mark McKnight, Rory Mulligan, Billy Quinn, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Pacifico Silano, Clarissa Sligh, Linn Underhill, and Albert Winn. These selected works address image-making practices and themes that articulate and make visible LGBTQ+ history through photography. Queer Moments highlights the historical contributions of LGBTQ+ artists to the Light Work Collection.

Queer Moments presents photographs by artists who participated in Light Work’s programs between 1992-2019. The images reflect narratives in particular historical moments, from Albert Winn’s Band-Aid Series (1999) at the height of the AIDS crisis to Pacifico Silano’s Untitled (2016). Queer Moments acknowledges the Light Work Collection’s role as an accessible resource for contemporary art, history, and activism. These artists used their cameras to boldly confront inequities in our society and give visual expression to the experience of marginalized communities. Photographs from Samantha Box, Rory Mulligan, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya embody the range of diverse genres in contemporary photography, including documentary, experimental, and conceptual work.

It’s a privilege to work directly from the Light Work Collection,” says guest curator and Light Work Lab Digital Services Coordinator Ryan Krueger. “If you spend time with this Collection, you can see Light Work has made a conscious decision for many decades to provide a platform to artists who address the inequities in society by using the power of photography. However, I’ve learned how historical this Collection is for how it displays the drastic changes in photography over the last forty years. Between the thousands of photographs collected, we see artists define what it means to be a photographer in their own individual way. From documentary to conceptual, the Light Work Collection displays a wide range of techniques and genres that artists have followed in defining photography as an art form. In this collection, we discover the preservation of cultural histories at a crossroads with race, sexuality, gender, and religion. What has echoed loudest in curating Queer Moments is that each photograph is a single narrative of its own with no intentional relationship to the photograph adjacent to it. This selection is about the potential for narrative and a reflection on Light Work for taking risks to preserve such history. Each photograph speaks volumes and reflects not only a cultural history but those who help preserve us with respect and gratitude.

About the Collection

Light Work’s Collection represents a 48-year legacy of supporting emerging and under-represented artists and boasts an extensive, diverse archive that maps the trends and developments in contemporary photography. The catalog currently contains more than 4,000 items, all of its original work, including color and black-and-white photographic prints, alternative processes, collages, installation pieces, artist books, portfolios, and publications. Exceptional in scope, the Collection covers all genres from documentary to abstract to experimental to conceptual work and is accessible online at collection.lightwork.org. Digitizing the archive was made possible through the generous support of The Gifford Foundation, Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS), The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), and The Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation.