Installation view of Uniforms (2014-2015), Laurie M. Tisch Gallery, New York, 2016

Laura Swanson
March 10 - April 27, 2016

Laurie M. Tisch Gallery
JCC Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10023

Exhibition Essay


Resistance is a solo exhibition of work by New York-based artist Laura Swanson. Over the past decade, Swanson has become known for her examination of the behavior of looking at physical difference and dwarfism, working across various media including drawing, installation, photography, and sculpture. Four feet tall in stature, the artist often depicts herself in both inviting and disrupting portraits, where she attempts to conceal herself in order to simultaneously resist and call attention to the viewer’s gaze. Rather than acting as a validation of identity, Swanson's work confronts and twists the relationship between subject and viewer to question bias toward the sameness and size of bodies, expectations of portraiture, histories of looking at difference, and assumptions when encountering people with disabilities in everyday life.

Curated by Amanda Cachia, the exhibition highlights Uniforms, a series of drawings, portraits, and life-sized figures, which depict Swanson wearing seven uniforms altered to fit her body. In this comprehensive work, the artist explores whether a reduction in scale can transform iconic uniforms, which fully cover the body for functional reasons or cultural significance, into entertaining and illogical visual amusement when worn by a body with dwarfism. In the series of photographs titled Anti-Self-Portraits, Swanson attempts to conceal her face and body within different domestic scenes. Also on view are photographs from Hope, NY, a personal collection of ‘anti-selfies’ created by the artist to share with friends and family on social media. By conspicuously denying her identity to the viewer, Swanson's humorous and poignant photographs question our habits and motives behind looking at difference.


Installation and Work Images