Zoe Leonard: Midas middle finger.

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I wonder if success in the art world buys the artist the freedom to do whatever. Perhaps, once an artist is minted onto the art world, validated by Biennials, and consumed by big names, a sort of Midas effect takes place, in which anything produced by the later is considered intellectual product, no matter how barren it may be.

I consider Zoe Leonard’s presentation at the AIC to be offensive. Mainly because I do not need to be lectured on the working mechanics of a Camera Obscura. As I understand it, the optical phenomenon taking place within it is the same regardless if it executed in Paris or NY. I also question both her capacity and authenticity as an artist with this project. In her lecture, she described how her work took a turn when she started “experimenting” with pinhole projections, and how the space becomes “…a device for the temporal perceptive manipulation” and “a social gathering place”. If the artist is being genuine about these statements, and I hope not, I wonder if she even considered how painfully silly and ingenuous this train of thought is, especially in today’s day and age.

Attached is a web page containing the work of fellow artist and photographer, Herminio Rodriguez. We used to share a studio space back in my country. He decided, out of fun, to convert his studio into a camera obscura. The projection on the walls was that of the low income housing project directly in front of us. I remember during the opening, how the people of the housing project flocked the studio, amazed by the projections. It was a beautiful moment; these people never had a proper school education, didn’t understand the optical mechanics at work, and waited in lines to see the buildings they lived in projected in walls. If Zoe truly wanted to generate a gathering space of dialog, my former studio partner achieved it for real, for a humble studio in front of a low income housing project in Puerto Rico is not the same as a high end gallery in Paris.

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