Published by Hatje Cantz/MUDAM Luxembourg. Edited by Tim Johnson. Text by C.J. Alvarez, Ariella Azoulay, Cecilia Ballí, Remijio "Primo" Carrasco, Dolores Dorantes, Darby English, Álvaro Enrigue, Catherine Facerias, Nadiah Rivera Fellah, Josh T. Franco, Esther Gabara, Adolfo Guzman Lopez, Aimé Iglesias Lukin, Elisabeth Lebovici, José Rabasa, Cameron Rowland, Roberto Tejada, Karla Villavicencio.
Zoe Leonard (born 1961) is among the most influential artists of her generation. Her work merges photography, sculpture and installation, balancing rigorous conceptualism with a distinctly personal vision. Al río / To the River, initiated in 2016, is a photographic project of epic scale addressing the more than 1,000 miles of river boundary shared by the United States and Mexico. Leonard approaches the river, known as Río Bravo in Mexico and Rio Grande in the United States, as a multifaceted leitmotif in which cultural, ecological, historical, social, political and economic concerns intersect. Published in two volumes, the first features Leonard’s photographs, while the second, edited by Tim Johnson, brings together written contributions from a remarkable group of international artists, journalists, poets and scholars. Conceived as an alternate form of circulation for the work, the publication also provides an interdisciplinary reference for people interested in the river, environmental issues, borderlands culture and contemporary border issues.
In the two related bodies of work that form the centrepiece of this volume, Zoe Leonard poses fundamental questions about the medium of photography and the nature of sight.
In a series of large-scale installations, Zoe Leonard has employed the principle of the camera obscura, pairing it with installations of silver-gelatin photographs of the sun.
The image in Leonard’s room-size camera obscuras is immersive and continuous, shifting constantly in response to the fleeting light of the outside world. On entering the installation, viewers’ eyes slowly adjust to the low light as an ephemeral panorama continuously unravels in the surrounding space and gradually comes into its full vibrancy.
Leonard’s camera obscuras have been sited in cities in Europe and the United States, from Venice and London to New York and Marfa. This title explores this body of work through photographs that document these installations in five international cities.
Zoe Leonard was the recipient of the eighth Bucksbaum Award for her camera obscura 945 Madison Avenue at the 2014 Whitney Biennal.