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With the greatest pleasure, we announce that Mark McKnight is the recipient of the 2020 Light Work Photobook Award for his monograph, Heaven is a Prison, which Light Work and Loose Joints will co-publish this year. Light Work gives the Photobook Award annually to an artistic project that deserves international attention. As with all Light Work programs, in selecting the artists for this recognition we seek to highlight emerging and underrepresented artists who come from diverse backgrounds.
“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.”
Heaven is a Prison explores 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. Against this severe expanse, he depicts a solitary pair of copulating, Sisyphean protagonists whose intimacies both liberate and bind them. Divided into chapters, the book’s poetic sequences move between the literal and the figurative, distance and communion, violence and affection. These landscapes feel claustrophobic, combining images of ethereal clouds with tangled bodies in ways simultaneously sculptural, shrewd, and tender. McKnight participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in July 2019.
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. McKnight participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in July 2019.