Skip Navigation

John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance

DATES Friday, October 23, 2020 through Sunday, September 26, 2021
  • August 19, 2020 The exhibition is presented as part of the inaugural UOVO Prize for an emerging Brooklyn artist.

    On view October 23, 2020–August 8, 2021

    John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition to date, featuring new and recent photographic portraits and still lifes of Central and West African sculptures that explore representation and Black identity in the African diaspora. For this exhibition, Edmonds engaged directly with the Museum’s Arts of Africa collection, photographing select objects donated to the Museum in 2015 from the estate of the late African American novelist Ralph Ellison. As the recipient of the UOVO Prize for an artist living or working in Brooklyn, Edmonds’s exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is presented in conjunction with his large scale public art installation on the UOVO: BROOKLYN facility’s façade.

    John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance is curated by Drew Sawyer, Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator, Photography, Brooklyn Museum, and Ashley James, former Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum (currently Associate Curator, Contemporary Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum).

    Edmonds is best known for his use of photography and video to create sensitive portraits and still lifes that reimagine art historical precedents and center Black queer experiences. The exhibition starts with American Gods, a group portrait by Edmonds featuring three Black males wearing du-rags. The work introduces common themes seen throughout Edmonds’s practice, including heightened staging of his subjects, stylistic references to art history, and the use of Black cultural materials as props. These strategies are found in Edmonds’s ongoing series of photographs that often juxtapose friends and acquaintances from his creative community in New York with African masks and figures from various private collections, including the artist’s own. Many of these photographs explore the ways that European and American modernisms have been implicated in colonialism and the historical reception of African art in the United States and Europe. The exhibition goes on to include other notable works from Edmonds’s practice, including Tête de femme, Whose Hands?, and Two Spirits.

    In conjunction with the exhibition, Edmonds created more than ten new photographic works featuring sculptures and masks donated to the Brooklyn Museum by the estate of the late writer Ralph Ellison, who is most well-known for his 1952 novel Invisible Man. Some of these new works by Edmonds document individual collection objects on shimmering golden backdrops, transforming the practices of museum photography by questioning its supposed neutrality; others depict models interacting with the sculptures, stylistically similar to the artist’s recent body of work. Also on display will be a commemorative figure made by an unknown Hemba artist from modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo, an object from the Ellison collection that Edmonds photographed.

    A Sidelong Glance draws its title from a phrase forwarded by scholar Krista Thompson, who used it to articulate the conflicted status of African art history within contemporary Black diaspora studies. Included in the exhibition, which is located in the Museum’s Ingrassia Gallery of Contemporary Art, is a broadsheet that visitors are encouraged to take with them. This publication, made by the artist, features the image Whose Hands? along with footnotes drawn from scholarly publications on Baule art. The exhibition will be on view from October 23, 2020 through August 8, 2021.

    “The Brooklyn Museum has been following John Edmonds’s career since he moved to Brooklyn in 2016, first acquiring two works from his Durag series in 2018, and we’re pleased to now present his first solo museum exhibition,” says curator Drew Sawyer. “As the Brooklyn Museum continues to look for ways to critically engage with its encyclopedic collection, we’re particularly excited to have Edmonds integrating sculptures and masks from our Arts of Africa collection into his new photographic portraits and still lifes.”

    In both his portraits and still lifes, Edmonds uses a large-format camera to heighten the staging of his subjects and explore their sculptural potential. This evokes references to both religious painting and modernist photography. Edmonds’s decision to highlight markers of Black self-fashioning and community—including hoodies, du-rags, and the aforementioned African sculptures—emphasizes individual style and shared visual language across time.

    Edmonds is the inaugural recipient of the UOVO Prize for an emerging Brooklyn artist. As the awardee, he receives a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, a commission for a 50x50-foot art installation on the façade of the new UOVO: BROOKLYN art storage and services facility, and a $25,000 unrestricted cash grant. Edmonds was selected independently by a team of curators from the Brooklyn Museum, and the prize is sponsored by UOVO. Edmonds’s public mural, which is comprised of his 2019 photograph Whose Hands?, was unveiled in November 2019. It shows unidentified hands gripping an African sculpture modeled after a Baule maternity sculpture, and is accompanied by footnotes drawn from Susan Vogel’s book Baule: African Art, Western Eyes. The mural calls forth questions of ownership, collection, and transmission of African art objects over time.

    The UOVO Prize is made possible by UOVO.

    About UOVO: UOVO is New York’s number one provider of art, fashion, and collections storage and services. With more than 650,000 square feet of storage across four New York locations, UOVO provides an array of storage options and innovative service and management solutions tailored to meet the specialized needs of any collection including climate-controlled storage, private viewing rooms, transportation, packing, and installation services. Each UOVO facility is purpose-designed and managed by a team of industry-leading experts dedicated to ensuring that works are safeguarded with the highest caliber of security, discretion, professionalism, and care.


    John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance
    View Original
  • July 9, 2019 The Brooklyn-based photographer will receive a solo exhibition, public installation, and cash award

    The Brooklyn Museum awards photographer John Edmonds the inaugural UOVO Prize for an emerging Brooklyn artist. As the awardee, Edmonds receives a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, a 50x50-foot public art installation on the façade of UOVO: BROOKLYN—the forthcoming Bushwick location of the art storage and services company that sponsors the prize—and a $25,000 unrestricted cash grant. Edmonds was selected by a team of curators from the Brooklyn Museum. His public installation will debut in fall of 2019, concurrent with the opening of UOVO: BROOKLYN, and the exhibition will follow at the Museum in 2020. Curated by Ashley James, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art, and Drew Sawyer, Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator, Photography, the exhibition will be the artist’s first solo museum show.

    “We’re so pleased to offer the UOVO Prize to John Edmonds, an artist whose gorgeous photographs negotiating the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, and spirituality have been captivating us over the past several years,” says Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum. “We can’t wait to share his ambitious body of work with Brooklyn, both inside the Museum and outside on the UOVO: BROOKLYN façade.”

    Best known for his sensitive depictions of young Black men, Edmonds uses photography and video to create sumptuous portraits and still lifes that challenge art historical precedents and center Black queer desire. He often uses a large-format camera to heighten the staging of his subjects and explore their sculptural potential, making reference to religious paintings and modernist photography. Highlighting markers of Black self-fashioning and community—hoodies, du-rags, and more recently, African sculptures—his formal photographs point to individual style and a shared visual language across time. Edmonds is included in the current group exhibition, Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall, on view at the Museum through December 8, 2019. The artist is also featured in this year’s Whitney Biennial.

    “Living and working in Brooklyn has deeply impacted and inspired my practice,” says John Edmonds. “I’m thrilled to work with the staff at the Brooklyn Museum and have my first solo museum presentation in the borough I call home. Moreover, the public artwork with UOVO is an opportunity to examine themes central to my work, including the relationship between public and private perceptions. The way viewers encounter an image as a physical thing in time and space, instead of something reduced to the screen, has always been important to me, and I’m excited to engage with these concerns on a large scale.”

    “We are delighted by the Brooklyn Museum’s selection of John Edmonds,” says Steven Guttman, founder and chairman of UOVO. “The UOVO Prize is designed to support the borough’s remarkable emerging artists. It is an honor to work with the extraordinary team at the Brooklyn Museum, and we are grateful for their time, knowledge, and thoughtful consideration throughout this process. We hope the solo museum exhibition, the public installation on the UOVO: BROOKLYN façade, and the cash award will significantly contribute to Mr. Edmonds’s career.”

    About John Edmonds:
    John Edmonds (b. 1989, Washington, D.C.) earned his M.F.A. in Photography from Yale University and his B.F.A. at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. Recent group exhibitions include the 79th Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin at David Zwirner, New York; Family Pictures at the Columbus Museum of Art; and Face to Face at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles. Residencies and fellowships include the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program in Brooklyn, New York; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine; and the Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta. The artist’s work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Brooklyn Museum. Edmonds is on the faculty at Yale University and the School of Visual Arts. He is represented by Company Gallery, New York.

    About UOVO:
    UOVO is New York’s number one provider of art, fashion, and collections storage and services. With more than 650,000 square feet of storage across four New York locations, UOVO provides an array of storage options and innovative service and management solutions tailored to meet the specialized needs of any collection including climate-controlled storage, private viewing rooms, transportation, packing, and installation services. Each UOVO facility is purpose-designed and managed by a team of industry-leading experts dedicated to ensuring that works are safeguarded with the highest caliber of security, discretion, professionalism, and care.

    John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance
    View Original