Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

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Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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1301 PE
Ace Hotel DTLA
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Blum & Poe
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art
David Kordansky Gallery
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
Karma, Los Angeles
Lorin Gallery DTLA
Lorin Gallery La Brea
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
New Low
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
r d f a
Rele Gallery LA
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Shulamit Nazarian
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
the Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Libraries/ Collections
Bard College, Center for Curatorial Studies Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
CalArts (Valencia, CA)
Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Research Library (Los Angeles, CA)
Marpha Foundation (Marpha, Nepal)
Maryland Institute College of Art, The Decker Library (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Emerging Leaders of Arts (Santa Barbara, CA)
Northwest Nazarene University (Nampa, ID)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Scholes Library (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego, CA)
Room Project (Detroit, MI)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, John M. Flaxman Library (Chicago, IL)
Skowhegan Archives (New York, NY)
Sotheby’s Institute of Art (New York, NY)
Telfair Museum (Savannah, GA)
The Baltimore Museum of Art Library & Archives (Baltimore, MD)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library (New York, NY)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)
USC Fisher Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art, Frances Mulhall Achilles Library (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Dawoud Bey’s Somatic Landscapes

Leer en Español

Dawoud Bey, Untitled #18 (Creek and House) (detail) (2017). Gelatin silver print, 44 x 55 inches. © Dawoud Bey. Image courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly.

In a brooding photograph, coarse waves ripple the surface of a cloud-shrouded lake, an abyss of water and sky that appears on the brink of a tempest. The large gelatin silver print is rendered in deep charcoal tones that hinge on total blackness, pushing it toward the precipice of legibility. The work, Untitled #25 (Lake Erie and Sky) (2017) by photographer Dawoud Bey, exudes a quiet confidence in its representation of nature. In it, a stark sky creates a central horizon line that opens into a velvety expanse of cresting waves—a minimalist landscape that recalls the graphite drawings of Vija Celmins or the similarly composed seascapes of Hiroshi Sugimoto. More than a compositional meditation on the vastness of nature, however, Bey’s depiction of this specific body of water—Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio—conjures distinct historical and conceptual concerns. The lake straddles the border between the United States and Canada, a demarcation that splits its oblong form. Peering northward toward this impalpable, watery boundary, Bey’s photograph represents the vista that enslaved people would have encountered at the end of their arduous journey along the Midwest portion of the Underground Railroad, which spilled into the Great Lakes and Canada. (The passage of the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850, which legalized the kidnapping of escaped enslaved people anywhere in the U.S., made Canada the least dangerous destination for those attempting to flee the horrors of bondage.1) In this context, Bey’s composition of water and air—slippery and evasive forms of matter—suggests the promise of emancipation. This aqueous landscape also serves, perhaps, as a powerful and poetic counterpoint to the nightmarish ocean-scape of the Middle Passage, which for centuries fed the bloated industry of chattel slavery.

Untitled #25 is the last in a series of 25 photographs that investigate the contemporary Ohio landscape of the Underground Railroad, depicting the sites of both real and purported safe houses, or stations, as they exist today. Three of these works were recently on view in Dawoud Bey: Pictures 1979 – 2019 at Sean Kelly, while seven others, including Untitled #25, were featured in the concurrent exhibition Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue at the Getty Center. The title of the series, Night Coming Tenderly, Black (all works 2017), references the last line of Langston Hughes’ two-stanza poem “Dream Variations” (1926), in which the poet relishes the dream-like freedom of twirling in the sunshine “Till the white day is done,” before falling into the gentle embrace of night, welcomed by the speaker as “Black like me.”2 Echoing Hughes’ celebration of the lush tones of dusk, and deliberately referencing photographer Roy DeCarava’s similar use of tonal blackness, Bey actually photographed his scenes in broad daylight, but manipulated his prints in the darkroom to appear under-illuminated, as if taken at night. This laborious technical process involved intentionally overprinting the negatives, substantially minimizing both the midtones and highlights to render a near-black image.3 The indiscernibility of the resulting works, which predominantly feature natural terrain seemingly bathed in the dimness of twilight, serves to alter our perception of the landscape, revealing it as it would have been perceived by the countless people who traversed it by nightfall in search of safe passage to Canada. Crucially, the actual gelatin silver prints created by Bey appear dramatically darker than the versions that the artist prepared for digital reproduction: The physical prints exhibit a rich inky finish and read as onyx in tone, while the reproductions, as seen here, depict a much more generous amount of detail and light variation.4 With this gesture, Bey asserts the photograph as a haptic object while also directing a singular perceptual experience for the viewer—an act of looking akin to an engrossing act of bearing witness. Like Hughes’ poem, these images posit the midnight landscape as a living place of lyrical liberation, collapsing the space between day and night and articulating the opacity of darkness as both a literal and metaphorical conduit for self-emancipation.

Bey’s photographic exploration of the landscape marks a dramatic shift in his oeuvre. Until recently, he primarily focused on intimate portraits of Black subjects—first on the streets of Harlem (Harlem, U.S.A., 1975–79), much like DeCarava before him, and then notably in Birmingham, Alabama, where he delved into the searing history of the Ku Klux Klan’s 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which killed six Black children (The Birmingham Project, 2012). “I wanted to give the Black subjects in the photographs a performative space in my pictures,” he stated to Artforum in 2021, “a space that would amplify their presence and direct their gaze out into the world.”5 As such, Bey’s subjects appear dignified and naturally at ease, and they tend to meet the gaze of the viewer both directly and indomitably. Night Coming Tenderly, Black accomplishes this through a method of reversal: Instead of physically representing his subjects, Bey represents the perspective of their gaze. In doing so, he drafts a contemplative portrait of the somatic experience of fugitivity, endowing it with intimacy.

Dawoud Bey, Untitled #4 (Leaves and Porch) (2017). Gelatin silver print, 44 × 55 inches. © Dawoud Bey. Image courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly.

Bey’s photographs mediate the space between subject and viewer, compressing these two discrete perspectives into one. This requires thoughtful direction; he takes all of these photographs at eye level, for example, and utilizes the lens’ ability to blur and sharpen its focus as a tool for imparting the visual sensation of physically moving through space. He also conjures the sensations of fugitivity through scale: The size of these photographs, immense for gelatin silver prints, envelope the viewer’s physical presence. Here, our bodies double as fugitive bodies, whose corporeal forms the darkness itself cradles.

While Untitled #25 places us within the expanse of Lake Erie, Untitled #4 (Leaves and Porch) casts our gaze upon a more intimate and mundane experience of the landscape. Here, strands of leafy foliage partly obscure the view of a white porch, which appears to be close to the camera, perhaps just out of arm’s reach. The unremarkable, seemingly haphazard framing suggests creeping movement, as if the person whose gaze Bey has adopted and for whom the camera is a surrogate hesitantly peers toward the entryway from the periphery, attempting to remain unseen. The image’s depth of field is shallow, which seems to approximate natural human eyesight—only a portion of the greenery in the photograph is in focus while the rest remains in a blur, as if we are perceiving the scene through the rapidity of darting eyes. The porch emits no light, a foreboding scene in the darkness. As safe houses tended to be unmarked (and thus the premise of safety constantly in flux), the tension between peril and asylum seeps through this work: While darkness can be a haven (a “tender blackness,” in Bey’s words), it also portends danger.6

Bey’s nuanced use of blackness as both technique and metaphor buttresses the project’s conceptual rigor. In a recent walkthrough of his exhibition at Sean Kelly, he explained that these photographs “were printed to approximate this idea of the Black subject, the Black narrative, and the blackness of the photographic print itself as a way of expressing an idea about Blackness as narrative, subject, and object;” they also harness “the idea of fugitivity—moving through the landscape under cover of darkness.”7 In this sense, these images, rich in their tangible, tender Blackness, act as portals to a space where the discrete perspectives that Bey invokes—that of the Black author, narrative, and subject—can freely coexist with complexity.

In an 1864 speech entitled “Pictures and Progress,” Frederick Douglass, the most photographed person in nineteenth-century America, made similar assessments about the complex nature of Black subjectivity and the representative power of photography. Through the proliferation of his photographic likeness throughout his lifetime, Douglass aimed to counter the vast arsenal of racist imagery propagated by slave-holding, white supremacist society, which exploited and denied the individual subjectivities of Black people. By “present[ing] a range of selves over time,” Henry Louis Gates writes, Douglass asserted that “not only did the black object [in this case, Douglass himself] actually, all along, embody subjectivity, but this subjectivity evolved and mutated over time.”8 This assortment of photographs allowed Douglass to craft a mosaic of his personality, visually reaffirming the existence of his personhood, and by extension, the personhood of Black Americans in general. While as a public figure, he exerted some control over his image, the visual archive of slavery remains deeply skewed, steeped in the violent spectacle of the enslaved individual as disenfranchised, objectified property.

Unlike written testimony, photographs created by enslaved people remain either unknown or completely nonexistent; Bey’s photographs disrupt this chasm of representation, offering a crucial shift in vantage point. Stephen Best notes: “When it comes to the representation of the inner life of the enslaved, few of our sources are visual in nature. For slaves are not the subject of the visual imagination, they are its object.”9 Therefore, by rejecting essentialized depictions of the body—and thus the spectacle of enslavement—and instead considering the visual perspective of enslaved people, Bey poetically eulogizes the tens of thousands of anonymous men, women, and children who through intrepid acts of resistance sought self-emancipation by way of the land. Bey’s omission of the body ultimately functions as a tender embrace—like the dark night itself—designed to shield the subject from further visual consumption and external harm.

The landscape, then, functions as a primary subject within these images. While several photographs, such as the aforementioned Untitled #4, depict homes or structures, most in the series depict only the natural terrain of northeastern Ohio. The resulting mix of real and imagined Underground Railroad sites emerges in Bey’s work partly by necessity. While conducting extensive research for this project, Bey discovered that the exact sites of many of the area’s Underground Railroad stations are either rumored or unknown, predominantly due to the secretive nature of the route itself. Thus, Bey offers a mythic approximation of the journey: His photographs craft a reverse archeology, using the unmarked land—a tether between past and present—as a cipher for both the emotive and physical experience of escape, if not the precise pathway. In 2019, he spoke of the land as a preternatural guide for the work, stating, “when I got there, almost inexplicably, I felt a very strong presence, unlike anything that I have felt related to any other photograph. So, at that point, I said to myself, this isn’t an imagined site. This is an actual location.”10 The photographs embody this metaphysical presence. In discussing his work at the Sean Kelly exhibition, Bey succinctly summarized his embrace of this allusive approach, which evades a didactic or literal reading, declaring: “I’m a poet, I’m not an essayist.” As such, his pictorial framing of the land, much like his compositional omission of the body, eschews the aesthetics of spectacle in favor of something more poetic.

In works such as Untitled #7 (Branches and Woods), Untitled #11 (Bent Branches), and Untitled #16 (Branches with Thorns), matrices of tree limbs tangle into silvery abstractions. In Untitled #12 (The Marsh) and Untitled #13 (Trees and Reflections), spindly landscapes meet their reflections in the still water below. Although charged with meaning, these vistas appear decidedly non-monumental—their visual compositions fail to overtly signal the urgency of their historical context. This represents a departure from the precedents set forth by prominent American landscape photographers (Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, et al.) who framed the monumentality of the natural world as a coda for American exceptionalism. The somber intimacy of Bey’s work intrinsically rejects this idealism. Although a corridor to emancipation, the landscape is far from a neutral entity. The specter of violence typifies the historical relationship between slavery and the natural world—slaveholders, for instance, forced enslaved people to construct the architecture of their enslavement and then perpetually maintain and harvest the surrounding land, a history Bey investigates in the series In This Here Place (2019–21), which depicts the sites of the Evergreen, Destrehan, Laura, Oak Alley, and Whitney Plantations in Louisiana. Furthermore, between 1882 and 1968, a period that African American studies professor Leigh Raiford refers to as the lynching epidemic, “photography emerged as integral to the lynching spectacle,” with the image of the noose hanging from a tree—one of the most horrific American visual symbols of anti-Black violence—functioning as the central motif.11 In this context, Bey’s framing of delicate tree limbs in the unpeopled landscape can be read as even more urgently corrective. These images also offer a rebuke of twentieth-century “sundown towns,”12 prevalent throughout Ohio, whose hostile white residents openly threatened Black people with violence after sundown. Reclaiming the beauty of the darkened landscape, then, the illegibility of Bey’s photographs serves to honor and safeguard the bodily sovereignty of his implied subjects.

Although the American landscape remains undeniably steeped in blood, it seeps not only from the sins of slavery. While not an explicit reference in Bey’s work, the Lake Erie area depicted in his photographs formerly harbored the eponymous Erie tribe. Also known as Eriehronon or Eriquehronon, their written history stems from the French Jesuits who occupied the area in the seventeenth century but never directly interacted with the Erie people.13 Thus, their archeological and cultural history remains largely unknown, now another incomplete memory embedded within the index of the landscape.14 Bey’s extricated histories serve as a reminder that many more still lay buried. By using landscape photography as a poetic form to impel a marginalized historical narrative, Night Coming Tenderly, Black not only challenges traditional representations of the American landscape but also proposes this genre as a somatic vessel for the memories and bodies once contained on its surface—regardless of how unmarked, unnamed, or illegible their narratives may be.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 33.

Dawoud Bey, Untitled #11 (Bent Branches) (2017). Gelatin silver print, 44 × 55 inches. © Dawoud Bey. Image courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly.

Dawoud Bey, Untitled #25 (Lake Erie and Sky) (2017). Gelatin silver print, 44 × 55 inches. © Dawoud Bey. Image courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly.

  1. “Fugitive Slave Acts,” History, updated June 29, 2023,
  2. Langston Hughes, “Dream Variations,” originally published 1926, in Dawoud Bey: Two American Projects, edited by Corey Keller and Elizabeth Sherman (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yale University Press, 2020), 19.
  3. Corey Keller and Elizabeth Sherman, “Now Is the Time,” in Dawoud Bey, 10–11.
  4. Matthew S. Witkovsky, “Dawoud Bey’s Shadowy Landscapes Trace Paths of the Underground Railroad,” Art in America, December 10, 2019,
  5. Ian Bourland, “Dawoud Bey on expanding the photographic moment,” Artforum, April 17, 2021,
  6. Leigh-Ann Jackson, “Dawoud Bey wants to deterritorialize art: ‘When I’m in these spaces, it opens up space for the Black community,’” Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2023,
  7. Dawoud Bey at Sean Kelly, June 2, 2023.
  8. Henry Louis Gates, “Frederick Douglass’s Camera Obscura,” Aperture, Summer 2016,
  9. Stephen Best, “Neither Lost nor Found: Slavery and the Visual Archive,” Representations 113, no. 1 (Winter 2011): 151,
  10. Jeffrey Brown and Jaywon Choe, “Dawoud Bey on photography as a ‘transformative experience,’ PBS NewsHour, March 15, 2019,
  11. Leigh Raiford, “Photography and the Practices of Critical Black Memory,” History and Theory 48, no. 4, (December 2009): 115,
  12. Michael De Bonis, “Were there ‘sundown towns’ in central Ohio?” Curious Cbus, WOSU 89.7 NPR News, April 3, 2023,
  13. Jonathan Burdick, “Not Gone, Not Forgotten,” Erie Reader, August 15, 2018,
  14. “Erie Indians,” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Case Western Reserve University, accessed July 3, 2023,

Jessica Simmons-Reid (MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; BA, Brown University) is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree. She’s interested in the interstitial space between the language of abstraction and the abstraction of language, as well as the intermingling of poetry and politics. She has contributed essays and reviews to Carla and Artforum, among others.

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