Galerie Lelong will present new works by Jane Hammond that merge traditional photography and collage, fused by the wit, meticulousness, and subtle audacity that are the artist’s hallmarks. In Photographs—her first exclusively photographic exhibition in New York—Hammond recontextualizes found images into imagined scenarios that are unique, uncanny, and oddly familiar. Also on view will be large “snapshot” works in which Hammond has collected vernacular portraits and inserted herself into each one, presenting the viewer with a panoramic album containing an array of identities. The exhibition will open to the public on Thursday, September 4, from 6 to 8 pm, and the artist will be present. After composing her collages digitally,
Hammond began working with photographs in 2004, and the medium has been a major focus since. Previously, her works had primarily consisted of paintings and works-on-paper in which she employed a fixed vocabulary of 276 images, which ranged from animals to historical figures to instructional drawings. Hammond would pull images from this set to use in her collages, altering and combining them in any number of ways; a moose with a piano on its back and a blue-faced, headdress-donning Sigmund Freud were two of such resulting subjects.
The photographs employ the same inventiveness and irreverence as in her other works, yet in a medium that implies fact and evidence of the past.
Hammond has the file converted to a negative and then printed in a darkroom as a silver gelatin print—a product that we, as lifelong consumers of media, have come to accept as keepsakes of actual events. When, in Panchatantra, a nude bather poses happily in a stream alongside a long-tusked elephant, the image reads as tender, idyllic, and completely plausible. In Cabrito, the oddity of an anthropomorphized goat practicing archery in the mountains among sheep is offset by a sense of familiarity with the scenery and the harmony of the photograph’s formal elements. This is what fascinates the artist—the collection of memories, real or imagined, and, in the artist’s words, “how meaning is constructed.”
Jane Hammond’s works have been exhibited worldwide for 20 years and can be found in numerous museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Albertina, Vienna. Her renowned work Fallen, an ongoing memorial to each of the American soldiers who have died in Iraq, debuted at Galerie Lelong in 2005 and has since been acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art and exhibited at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Currently, an exhibition of photographs is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver from August 19 to February 8, 2009, and the survey exhibition Jane Hammond: Paper Work opens October 1 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, its seventh and final venue.