New York

Zoe Leonard

Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

It was in her studio—a sixth-floor walk-up on Essex Street in the Lower East Side—rather than in her SoHo gallery that Zoe Leonard mounted her recent exhibition of photographs and objects. Her choice of setting was apt, not because the imagery in her photographs is drawn from the streets outside her window, though it sometimes is, but because her work, like the neighborhood she lives in, comprises inconsequential things—cheap commodities, graffiti, the detritus of everyday life. In Leonard’s photographs easily overlooked objects and sites become oddly expressive, precisely because they form the entire content of the image. They convey no “obvious meaning,” in Roland Barthes’ sense of the phrase, that is, there seems to be no effort to make these things into symbols of anything. As a photographic subject, two toilets in an immaculate public bathroom couldn’t be more mundane. One has a black

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