Featuring work made over the past two decades, this exhibition is the first museum survey dedicated to Deana Lawson. Working primarily in photography, Lawson investigates and challenges conventional representations of Black identities and bodies. Her work evokes a range of photographic histories and styles, including family albums, studio portraiture, and staged tableaux; she also employs documentary pictures and appropriated images.
In Lawson’s highly staged scenes, individuals, couples, and families are pictured in intimate domestic spaces and public settings, interacting with one another. The artist describes her work as “a mirror of everyday life, but also a projection of what I want to happen. It’s about setting a different standard of values and saying that everyday Black lives, everyday experiences, are beautiful, and powerful, and intelligent.” Lawson’s practice is global in scope, as she creates her images throughout the African diaspora in locations as varied as Brooklyn, Haiti, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Southern United States. This broad geographical range points to a collective memory of shared experiences and various cultural histories of the past.
This exhibition is co-organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston and MoMA PS1.