Deana Lawson is one of the most compelling photographers of her generation. Over the last ten years, she has created a visionary language to describe identities through intimate portraiture and striking accounts of ceremonies and rituals. Using medium- and large-format cameras, Lawson works with models she meets in the United States and on travels in the Caribbean and Africa to construct arresting, highly structured, and deliberately theatrical scenes animated by an exquisite range of color and attention to surprising details: bedding and furniture in domestic interiors or lush plants in Edenic gardens. The body—often nude—is central. Throughout her work, which invites comparison to the photography of Diane Arbus, Jeff Wall, and Carrie Mae Weems, Lawson seeks to portray the personal and the powerful. Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph features forty beautifully reproduced photographs, an essay by the acclaimed writer Zadie Smith, and an expansive conversation with the artist Arthur Jafa.
Deana Lawson (born in Rochester, New York, 1979) received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her photography has been exhibited widely, including at the Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and the 2018 Whitney Biennial. Lawson is assistant professor in visual arts at Princeton University, and is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.
Zadie Smith is the author of the acclaimed novels White Teeth (2001), The Autograph Man (2003), On Beauty (2005), NW (2013), and Swing Time (2016), and the essay collections Changing My Mind (2010) and Feel Free (2018). Winner of the Whitbread first novel award, the Guardian First Book Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, the Commonwealth Writers’ first book award, and the Orange Prize, and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, she is a regular contributor to the New Yorker and Harper’s.
Arthur Jafa is an artist and filmmaker whose work includes Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death (2016), Dreams Are Colder Than Death (2014), APEX (2013), and Daughters of the Dust (1991). Jafa has exhibited his work at major institutions and galleries, including the Whitney Museum of American Art; Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C; the Serpentine Galleries, London; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.