Sharon Lockhart: MILENA MILENA

December 12, 2015 - January 23, 2016
New York | 24th Street

Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Sharon Lockhart. This will be the artist’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery. Lockhart is known for creating photographs and films that mine the formal terrain of her chosen mediums, while forming work that is deeply insightful towards the communities she engages. In an ongoing project, Lockhart focuses on a young woman named Milena, whom the artist met in Poland while producing her 2009 film, Podwórka. Lockhart and the then nine-year-old Milena established a close friendship and collaborative involvement that has continued to grow and evolve. Through her work and relationship with Milena, Lockhart explores both visual and philosophical approaches to childhood, as well as the cultural and sociological operations inherent to photography.

Lockhart’s 2015 video installation, Antoine/Milena, pays homage to François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959). Truffaut’s iconic closing sequence depicts the misunderstood hero, Antoine Doinel, running to the beach, seeing the ocean for the first time, and turning to confront the camera before him. Referencing this sequence, while altering it significantly, Lockhart captures Milena running through the Polish countryside to arrive at the sea. In contrast to Truffaut’s stilling of Antoine, in which he zooms in on Antoine’s frozen face, Milena approaches the camera in Lockhart’s film, locking eyes with the viewer in a gaze that is at once defiant and fragile. Drawing parallels between Truffaut’s protagonist and Milena, Lockhart poetically expresses the urgency of self-realization and speculation.

A large-format photographic triptych, Milena, Jarosław, 2013 (2014), similarly explores the indefinable nature of both subject and medium. The photographs, which are installed on three architectural volumes, cannot be viewed in full from a single vantage point, requiring visitors to navigate the space to see the triptych in its entirety. These images depict Milena seated indoors, concealing and revealing her face to varying degrees. Her emotions and expressions shift from image to image, and the elusive quality of this installation points to the multifaceted nature of development, self-expression and articulation. The choreographed movements of visitors and gradual revealing of Milena’s face functions as a metaphor for the photographic process of exposure and disclosure. 

Linking histories and images, the themes explored in Lockhart’s collaborations with Milena resonate with another ongoing body of work on display, Untitled Study (Rephotographed Snapshot), which the artist began in 1994. The series consists of rephotographed pictures from her personal history, the majority of which were originally taken during Lockhart’s childhood by her mother and feature family members. The artist’s highly intimate appropriation offers a meditation on her own relationship to childhood and development, as well as portraiture and the aesthetic operations of media.

The themes explored in this exhibition inform Lockhart’s larger project in Poland, which includes Milena and her companions from the Sociotherapy Center in Rudzienko.  From workshops held in the summers of 2014 and 2015, Lockhart created Rudzienko. Co-produced by the Liverpool Biennial and Kadist Art Foundation, the work will premiere in a solo exhibition in 2016 at the Arts Club of Chicago. In this forthcoming filmic installation, Lockhart focuses on Milena and her peers, inspired by the writing of Janusz Korczak, creating space for the child’s voice and articulations of their often-overlooked perspectives.

Sharon Lockhart was born in 1964 and lives and works in Los Angeles. Lockhart’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at international institutions including Wiener Secession, Austria; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Kunsthalle Zürich; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Wolfsburg Museum, Germany; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her films have been included in the New York Film Festival, Vienna International Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival. In 2013 the exhibition Milena, Milena debuted at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw and traveled to Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm and Kunstmuseum Luzern. In 2016, Lockhart will be the subject of solo exhibitions at the Arts Club of Chicago and the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.