This year’s Whitney Biennial features many artists who combine sculpture, painting, and photography in their work. Artists Matt Hoyt and Liz Deschenes explore the intersection of different media in their work and create relationships between traditional media that disrupt our expectations and engage us as viewers.
Deschenes combines photography and sculpture to create immersive works that respond to both the body of the viewer and the architecture of the Whitney Museum’s Breuer building. The first consists of a pair of large white frames, each containing a dark reflective surface set at an angle slightly off register from the angle of the frame. The work resembles a minimalist sculpture and references the window shapes of the Breuer building. The list of materials used in the work reveals that the glossy material inside the frame is silver-toned gelatin emulsion, or a photograph. The way in which Deschenes incorporates photography into the work disrupts one’s expectation of what a photograph represents. Instead of representing light and time, the photograph is used to represent perspectival space, thus the decision to use a large-format view camera typically used for architectural photography. The second piece is a set of vertical panels, each a silver-toned gelatin silver print. Unlike the first piece, this work has no frame, it exists as both sculpture and photograph at a slightly larger than human scale. Deschenes’s work allows us to experience the intersection of media that in combination have the ability to expand our sense of the architectural space of the Breuer building.
The work of Hoyt and Deschenes engages the viewer and disrupts one’s expectations through the use of unexpected relationships between traditional media.