Being: New Photography 2018, Address Ideas of Human Experience, Self-Making, and Collective Identity

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Yazan Khalili. Hiding our faces like a dancing wind. 2016 (still). Video (color, no sound), 7 min., 30 sec.. Courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai. © 2017 Yazan Khalili

NEW YORK—The Museum of Modern Art presents Being: New Photography 2018, an exhibition investigating charged and layered notions of personhood and subjectivity in recent photography and photo-based art. This is the latest edition of MoMA’s longstanding and celebrated New Photography series, which since its last iteration, in 2015, is presented in an expanded, thematic format. Since its inception in 1985, the New Photography series has been a vital component of the Museum’s contemporary program, introducing new work by over 100 artists from around the globe to a wider audience. On view from March 18 through August 19, 2018, this year’s exhibition includes works by 17 artists working in the US and internationally. Being: New Photography 2018 is organized by Lucy Gallun, Assistant Curator, Department of Photography.

The works included in Being take on contemporary existence and human experience through a range of issues and tactics, including interrogations of traditional modes of portraiture in the history of photography, the use of surrogates or masks as replacements for the body, tensions between privacy and exposure, and the agency of the sitter and of the artist. Some works in the exhibition might be considered straightforward figurative depictions, while others do not include imagery of the human body at all. Since its earliest manifestations, photography has been widely seen as a means by which to capture an exact likeness of a person, and the artists featured in Being mine or upset this rich history in their considerations of the ramifications of photographic representations of personhood in the contemporary moment.

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Aïda Muluneh. All in One. 2016. Pigmented inkjet print, 31 1/2 × 31 1/2″ (80 × 80 cm). Courtesy the artist and David Krut Projects. © 2017 Aïda Muluneh

In turning toward the personal, some works in the exhibition evoke feelings of introspection or intimacy, while others investigate social relations or concepts of community, and in so doing foreground the subject of humanity or being in the world. The works respond to diverse lived experiences and circumstances. “While personhood is something that we all share, also inherent in these representations is the recognition of difference, which is especially urgent in our current moment when rights of representation are contested for many individuals,” said Gallun. “Universality in humanity does not mean sameness.”

Being: New Photography 2018 is constituted primarily of works made since 2016, both by artists who are just starting out in their careers, showing in New York for the first time, and by others with more established practices—and who, in some cases, have been supporting the field of photography through teaching or creating other platforms for production. For all the artists, this will be the first exhibition of their work at the Museum.

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Joanna Piotrowska. XXXI from Frowst. 2013-2014. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy the artist and Southard Reid, London. © 2017 Joanna Piotrowska

Artists included in Being: New Photography 2018

Sofia Borges (Brazilian, born 1984)

Matthew Connors (American, born 1976)

Sam Contis (American, born 1982)

Shilpa Gupta (Indian, born 1976)

Adelita Husni-Bey (Italian, born 1985)

Yazan Khalili (Palestinian, born Syria, 1981)

Harold Mendez (American, born 1977)

Aïda Muluneh (Ethiopian, born 1974)

Hương Ngô and Hồng-Ân Trương (American, born Hong Kong, 1979; American, born 1976)

B. Ingrid Olson (American, born 1987)

Joanna Piotrowska (Polish, born 1985)

Em Rooney (American, born 1983)

Paul Mpagi Sepuya (American, born 1982)

Andrzej Steinbach (German, born Poland, 1983)

Stephanie Syjuco (American, born Philippines, 1974)

Carmen Winant (American, born 1983)

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Paul Mpagi Sepuya. Mirror Study (4R2A0857). 2016. Pigmented inkjet print, 51 × 34″ (129.5 × 86.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Fund for the Twenty-First Century. © 2017 Paul Mpagi Sepuya
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