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For several years, Liz Deschenes has explored the technical apparatus of photography—its materials, equipment, and processes. Her resulting body of work is both critically self-reflexive and lushly beautiful, hovering between photographic images and three-dimensional art objects. The photographs featured in the 2012 Biennial are photograms made by a camera-less process in which photosensitive paper is exposed to light, recording variations in tone. This technique is often used to capture the silhouette of an object placed on the paper; to create these works, however, Deschenes exposed the paper—unobstructed—outside, documenting the ambient light itself.
The artist’s interest in the properties of photography, light, and sight can also be seen in the correlation she draws between the Whitney’s Breuer building and a large-format view camera. Typically used for architectural photography, a view camera’s tilt-shift lens enables the photographer to control the representation of perspective by altering the relationship between lens and film. Deschenes has arranged these photograms to visually connect the bellows apparatus characteristic of this type of camera with the stepped, “inverted ziggurat” facade of the Whitney’s exterior, and the device’s tilt-shift lens with the building’s angled windows. Thus aligning these two creations of modernism, she associates the sight of the camera with the view through and of the Breuer building.
Liz Deschenes’s work in on view in the Museum’s third floor galleries.