Each week, from September 28 through November 16, we’ll introduce the work of a new artist in the exhibition on Magazine.
How do photographs speak to one another? Companion Pieces: New Photography 2020 traces conversations between images. Some happen between paired or pendant pictures that rely upon one another to convey a shared message; others use the visual rhyme or echoes that reverberate across multiple prints or in montage; still others occur between distinct photographic series that, woven together, deliver new or more complex accounts of the world.
By their very nature, photographic prints are iterative: an image captured on a single negative can exist in multiple printed forms, scales, proofs, or editions. Each corresponds to others that share its source, though sometimes their differences may be more immediately apparent than their similarities. Some photographers organize individual pictures into series or present them as books, enabling the construction of a sequence from one photo to the next. While many of the artists whose work is featured in Companion Pieces are accomplished photo-book makers, here they interrogate the expected cadence of a book (and we, too, are reading their images digitally, instead of in the form of a physical book that we hold in our hands). Some add new elements, interspersing them to build layers; others present a fragmented narrative, fashioned from distinct pieces that fit together anew.
This exhibition was conceived well before the pandemic forced us inside, physically isolating us from one another, compelling us to connect through our screens. We’d already become accustomed to the ways in which links thread one image to another through clicks. Artists cull images online, whether they come from generations past or were born in digital form and produced by the artists themselves. In realizing this exhibition on moma.org, we once again experience physical artworks—whether sculptural objects or framed prints on paper—as digital scrolls of images. And in our current reality of frequent looking online, we are eager for their companionship.
Since the first New Photography exhibition at MoMA in 1985, the series has introduced the work of almost 150 artists to wider audiences. This year, Companion Pieces brings together recent work by eight artists working in the United States and abroad: David Alekhuogie (American, born 1986), Özlem Altın (Turkish and German, born 1977), Maria Antelman (Greek, born 1971), Iñaki Bonillas (Mexican, born 1981), Sohrab Hura (Indian, born 1981), Dionne Lee (American, born 1988), Zora J Murff (American, born 1987), and Irina Rozovsky (American, born Russia, 1981).
Organized by Lucy Gallun, Associate Curator, Department of Photography.