Carrie Yamaoka: recto/verso

Carrie Yamaoka: recto/verso

Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington

Carrie Yamaoka, 72 by 45 (wall), 2016. Reflective polyester film, urethane resin, and mixed media on wood panel. Courtesy of the artist.

September 11, 2019
Carrie Yamaoka: recto/verso
July 13–November 3, 2019
Performance: October 6, 7:30–8:30pm
Velocity Dance Center
Reading and conversation: October 24, 4–5pm
Guided tour: October 26, 2–3pm
Henry Art Gallery
15th Ave NE & NE 41st St
98195 Seattle WA
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Carrie Yamaoka: recto/verso is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in a career spanning over thirty years. It traces Yamaoka’s interest in the potential for multiplicity in states of being and ways of seeing, and follows how an investigation of visibility, perception, and subjectivity extends and evolves across her work from the early 1990s through today. 

Among the earliest works in the exhibition is Archipelagoes (1991–94/2019), a group of chemically altered photograms that refer to sites of quarantine and detention such as prisons, internment camps, and hospitals; as well as the series Banned (1990–93), in which Yamaoka photographed pages from books banned in the US (either from import or libraries) and, using subtractive processes, altered and redacted the text to align with her subjective reading of these renegade and canonical works. These artworks can be seen in relation to their time and its crucible of identity politics, the instability of language and representation, and the AIDS epidemic—and they poignantly continue to resonate today.

In the mid-1990s, Yamaoka began using reflective polyester film, creating works that operate in the expanded field of painting, while also remaining intimately tethered to principles of photography. In the malleability of her new material, Yamaoka found a corollary to photographic film: the reflective membrane captures shifting environmental conditions and, in Yamaoka’s words, functions like “a film plane upon which the shutter is always open.” These works implicate time as a material and accentuate the ephemeral nature of being, as well as the potential for mutability. The viewer enters the frame, reflected in the work, positing and navigating their authorship and agency. 

Across her work, Yamaoka revels in materiality and deploys strategies that mirror a conception of the self and identity that is contingent and elastic. Her working methods embrace the incidence of chance, states of transformation, and the indeterminate. Taking heed of error and defect, she often uses materials unconventionally to expand their potential beyond their pre-determined, scripted function. 

A full-color publication accompanies the exhibition. 

Yamaoka (US, born 1957) has exhibited her work since the 1980s. This autumn, her work is featured in arms ache avid aeon: Nancy Brooks Brody / Joy Episalla / Zoe Leonard / Carrie Yamaoka: fierce pussy amplified at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. She is the recipient of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2017 Anonymous Was a Woman Award. She lives and works in New York City and is a founding member of the queer art collective fierce pussy.

Related programs

Sunday, October 6, 7:30pm
Property of Opaqueness: a performance by Takahiro Yamamoto
In partnership with Velocity Dance Center, artist and choreographer Takahiro Yamamoto will present the collaborative dance performance Property of Opaqueness, part of a multi-year project that investigates visibility and the physical and emotional effects that performers and viewers undergo when acts of looking and moving vary over an extended duration. 

On Saturday, October 5, at 2pm, Yamamoto will facilitate a related public discussion for local artists and thinkers. 

Thursday, October 24, 4pm
A Century: a reading and conversation with Ariel Goldberg

Writer Ariel Goldberg will read from A Century, a novel-in-progress that imagines erased details of queer life in the mid-twentieth century through the relationship between photographer Berenice Abbott and arts critic Elizabeth McCausland. After the reading, Goldberg will be joined by writer Rebecca Brown for a conversation about the process of writing A Century.

Saturday, October 26, 2pm
Guided tour of 
Carrie Yamaoka: recto/verso with Ariel Goldberg
Led by Ariel Goldberg, this guided tour will consider how themes of visibility, perception, and subjectivity manifest themselves in Yamaoka’s studio practice, as well as in her collaborative activist work.

Click here to learn more about the exhibition and related programs.

Carrie Yamaoka: recto/verso is organized by Nina Bozicnik, Associate Curator. Lead support is provided by Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. Adjacent programs are organized in collaboration with Henry Associate Curator of Public and Youth Programs Mita Mahato and Henry Programs Coordinator Ian Siporin.

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Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington
September 11, 2019

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