Zoe Leonard


A tree barren of leaves, ten fairly small photographs, generic motifs, a lot of empty space, and a door opening onto the outside through which the sound of birds and traffic could be heard. What Zoe Leonard disseminated in her recent show consisted largely of “atmosphere.”

Many here, some in the local media, expressed disappointment with Leonard’s exhibition, because it did not fulfill what some expect from “political” artists. Why, then, did the show strike me as important? For exactly the same reason: it did not fulfill expectations, and thus offered an opportunity for reflection. There is a tendency to ascribe rigid roles to artists who have drawn clear positions in their work (in Leonard’s case, this would include her involvement with ACT UP and Fierce Pussy, but also her installation at the 1992. Documenta). One should perhaps consider that those who take particular pleasure in accusing

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