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The Jackman Goldwasser Residency

Paul Mpagi Sepuya

February 22 - April 15, 2014

Pms Headshot

Kicking off the 2014 season, we're happy to welcome New York-based Paul Mpagi Sepuya for his first visit to Chicago. Concerned with the structure and history of photography, Sepuya asks what it means for artists working with photography to be making portraiture today. Working primarily in color, Sepuya's photographic practice is sited in the artist's studio where he often portrays young men--friends and acquaintances--collapsing the space between the subject and photographer, highlighting the relationship between the two and his active role, despite being behind the camera. In his words, he attempts "to challenge the diminishment of the portrait photographer and assert the importance of the role of the artist as rooted in time and place."  The studio also acts as an important space for editing where Sepuya works with both primary photograhs and re-photographed materials from the studio space itself, both of which define and document his practice. Through this process, Sepuya seeks "the possibility of return through reproduction...No two returns are the same." Brian O'Doherty's "collage of compressed tenses [within] studio time" allows for the emergence of a space between the documentary and the imaginary, of possibility. While in Chicago, Sepuya plans to mine queer legacies important to the development of Chicago's cultural life, including Samuel Steward and the Society for Human Rights.

Sepuya's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York (2010), the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2010-2011), Franklin Art Works, Minneapolis, and Artspeak, Vancouver.

Residency Project

While in Chicago, Sepuya focused on tracing the legacies of individuals and institutions crucial to the development of Chicago's queer culture. Echoing his practice, Sepuya's studio at Hyde Park Art Center was an important site for his experiments in framing, cropping, and editing photographs. Sepuya held an artist talk on March 26, 2014 while in residence. 

Additionally, Paul held Open Studio hours on the following dates:

Thursday, March 6 (12-6 pm)
Thursday, March 20 (12-6 pm)
Thursday, April 3 (12-6 pm)
Sunday, April 13 (1-3 pm)