Bryson Rand: The Shadow Has a Dream

January 27th – May 7th, 2020

Zeit Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the online exhibition Bryson Rand: The Shadow Has a Dream. This exhibition presents a new and unseen body of photographs from 2019 executed in Colorado, Fire Island (New York), Skowhegan, and Iceland.

As one of the most talented photographers of his generation, Bryson Rand has focused his photographic practice on bodies and nature with an aesthetic marked by the use of black and white that situates his images outside time. Rand’s work draws on the photographic tradition pioneered by Peter Hujar, Mark Morrisroe and Nan Goldin documenting LGTBQ communities that were under threat and rapidly disappearing in the 1980s and 90s. Using the power of photography to create networks of resistance and collective memory, Rand’s images depict the beauty of non-idealized bodies, drawing attention to scars, rolls and skin textures. While Rand’s early photographs documented strangers posing for him as models in parties and private apartments in New York or Los Angeles, this new photographs offer a unique perspective into portraits of his close friends. This is evident in remarkable works such as Jordan Smoking in Mesh Dress, Elle/Truck, and Jeffrey, all executed during his time at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine.

The presence of vegetation such as succulents and palm trees first appeared in Rand’s work in connection to the images of bodies. The dense vegetation countered the freedom of expression and sexual desire which was blatant in the pictures of bodies. In his most recent series of works, the natural landscapes of Colorado, Skowhegan and Iceland evolve the merging of the human body through formal solutions. As Bryson Rand explains: “I think that there is an interesting shift in psychology when you’re looking at a body or portrait and then you’re looking at a landscape. But I want there to be some sort of connection. I think the light, the textures, and even the fact that the photographs are shot in a portrait orientation, formally ties them together.” An example of this relationship between bodies and nature can be seen in Zack in Dappled Light (Fire Island), where the use of light and shadows situates the portrait in a natural space and in connection to other works depicting trees and waterscapes. “I’m attempting to draw parallels between the blood that runs through our veins and the water that runs through a tree and gives it life,” the artist explains.

This new body of work exposes the viewers to the strength and optimism of nature and the queer communities that Bryson Rand documents. The photographer uses light as joy, creating a connection between the beauty of the planet and the beauty of queer people, historically oppressed and marginalized around the world.

On occasion of this exhibition, Zeit Contemporary Art is publishing a conversation between Bryson Rand and Ron Gregg, Senior Lecturer in Film at Columbia University.

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