M+B is pleased to announce New Wilderness, a two-part exhibition of new color photographs by artist Anthony Lepore on view at both M+B and François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles. New Wilderness is a provocative series of photographs that lay bare nature as an historical construct governed by human invention and intervention. The series, comprised of numerous landscapes, undermines the commonplace distinction between the real (nature) and simulation (image), alluding to the power of politics and representation in shaping our interactions with the world. Although these photographs often suggest collage or post-production alterations, Lepore eschews digital manipulation and shoots with a 4 x 5 camera in the interpretive visitor centers of designated wilderness areas. Both exhibitions will run from May 21 through June 30, 2011, with opening receptions for the artist on Saturday, May 21, 2011 from 6 – 9 pm.
As the title suggests, Lepore’s images recast the wild as it is restaged in the low-budget theater that is the visitor center. These spaces are the vestibules to wilderness—indoor recreations intended to instruct the newcomer on the open spaces they border, asking only that they walk the distance of the parking lot. By reframing these displays, which usually incorporate other photographs, these images also reflect on our predominant way of experiencing nature—through photography.
While the work nods to the idea that we are detached from the wilderness often by the very actions we take to “know it,” it is far from aloof. Lepore neither tries to simulate the meticulous fervor of the scientific naturalist, nor does he attempt to join that dense history or polemicize it. The pamphlet, the diorama, the topographical model are the iconic result of what resembles reverence. That the artist immersed himself in these environments to get long, 4 x 5 exposures denotes his involvement. He wants to go there too. An avid hiker himself, Lepore knows first hand the achy impossibility of “capturing” the wild in a photograph. It is only the body that can experience it. And this understanding on the part of the artist—that he can and must separate the ontological urge (to be in it) from the indexical urge (to know it)—that gives way to this new body of work that manages to refer to both.
Born in 1977, Anthony Lepore received his BFA from Fordham University in 2000 and his MFA from the prestigious Yale University program in 2005. His work has been exhibited internationally, from Shanghai to New York to Basel and is held in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, Missouri) and Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Connecticut). Lepore currently lives and works in Los Angeles, and this will be his first exhibition with M+B.