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Lorna Simpson (American, born 1960)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American photographer and film maker. She studied photography at the School of Visual Arts, New York, graduating with a BFA in 1982, and then went on to study for her MFA in Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, graduating in 1985. In the late 1970s Simpson had travelled around the USA, Europe and Africa taking documentary photographs. At graduate school she began to question the ‘objectivity’ of the documentary photograph and to insert texts into her photographs to produce fragmented, incomplete narratives. The people in her photographs are rarely photographed from the front, and their faces and eyes are often obscured or omitted. In Screen I (1986; New York, New Sch. Soc. Res.) an image of a seated woman is repeated and accompanied by the text ‘Marie said she/was from Montreal/although/she was from Haiti’. Simpson’s subjects at this time were almost exclusively African American women: her intention was to confront stereotypes of race and gender through the use of text and repeated imagery. The objects in Simpson’s work operate as symbols in a similar way to her use of text, as in Bio (1992; Chicago, IL, Mus. Contemp. A.). Here the text ‘biopsy, biography, biology’ accompanies images of boxes, men’s and women’s shoes, and a model of ambiguous gender who poses with their back to the camera, with the images forming a narrative about perceptions of identity. In 1997 Simpson explored similar themes in her film Interior/Exterior, Full/ Empty (see 1997 exh. cat.), which features seven narratives projected simultaneously.

Catherine M. Grant
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press


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