Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break

Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break

Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis

Lunch Break film installation from Lunch Break, Vienna Secession, Hauptraum, 2008

February 18, 2010

Sharon Lockhart
Lunch Break
February 5 – April 19, 2010

Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
at Washington University in St. Louis

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum announces the exhibition Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break, on view February 5 – April 29, 2010.

Los Angeles-based conceptual artist Sharon Lockhart creates films and photographs that are at once rigorously formal and deeply humanistic, meticulously observing the details of everyday life while also probing the limits and intersections between the two mediums. As much as Lockhart’s photographs reveal cinematic qualities of staging and casting, so too do her films frequently engage a static camera and angles that recall photographic practices.

Inspired by the shifting world economy and its effect on American labor, Lockhart spent a year observing and engaging workers at the Bath Iron Works, a major shipyard and U.S. Navy supplier located in Bath, Maine. The resulting works, collectively titled Lunch Break, include two large-scale film installations and three distinct sets of photographs that together explore the daily routines and social activities of workers during their time away from production.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is the titular film Lunch Break, which consists of a single, slow-moving tracking shot down a long and seemingly endless interior corridor. To create the film, Lockhart recorded a ten-minute walk-through — her first use of a mobile camera — then employed digital technology to stretch the length to eighty minutes. The result is a meditative reflection, devoid of sentiment, on aspects of factory life that typically remain hidden from outside view.

By contrast, the second film, Exit, is divided into five sections — one for each day of the workweek — and depicts workers as they depart the complex at the end of their shifts. Employing a static camera, the film recalls Louis Lumière’s historic Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895), a forty-six-second black-and-white short that is widely considered to be the first true motion picture. Lockhart subtly reverses Lumière’s viewpoint; rather than surveil workers as they stream toward an exterior camera, she films from within factory grounds, focusing on workers’ backs as they seemingly stage their own exits.

The first of the three series of photographs centers on workers’ lunch boxes, emphasizing the ways in which stickers, labels, contents and other minute details suggest the personalities of their owners. A second series is devoted to the independent businesses that exist within the factory — makeshift booths where workers sell hot dogs, coffee and other items to their colleagues. The third series consists of carefully composed images of workers lingering around lunch tables, at once recalling and revising historical traditions of group portraiture.

A fully illustrated color catalog accompanies the exhibition. The catalog will include essays by Sabine Eckmann, Mark Godfrey and Matthias Michalka, as well as an interview by filmmaker James Benning, in which Sharon Lockhart discusses her creative process, and an interview with architects Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena, conducted by András Pálffy. A companion volume that focuses on the conception and development of Lunch Break will be published by the Vienna Secession in June.

Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break is organized by Sabine Eckmann, Ph.D., director and chief curator of the Kemper Art Museum.

Sharon Lockhart
Sharon Lockhart received her MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1993. She has been a Radcliffe fellow, a Guggenheim fellow, and a Rockefeller fellow. Her films and photographic work have been widely exhibited at international film festivals and in museums, cultural institutions, and galleries around the world. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Fine Arts.

Exhibition Tour
Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine, July 10 to Oct. 17, 2010
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, May 21 to Sept. 6, 2011

Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
The Kemper Art Museum at Washington University is part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, and features cutting-edge special exhibitions, exceptional educational resources, and an outstanding collection of 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century European and American art. Free and open to the public 11-6 every day except Tuesday, open 11-8 on Friday. 314.935.4523

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Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis
February 18, 2010

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