I make photographs about the act of portrait making, and the desire to look and understand the connection circuits and relationships between people. I photograph those clsoe to me and I use repetition and simple formal structures to emphasize the shared emotional line that connects these friends, romantic relationships, and family. The most recent works-in-progress investigate the shifting subject-object dynamic present in the site and event of portrait making, when layered on top of these relationships. These works are the result of a collaboration with Matija, a performance artist and special friend who I photographed the morning I left to come upstate. Each day, the digital snapshot portraits were re-photographed and re-contextualized in my new live/work studio, as I also began photographing the shifting light and landscape on the bed where I have been sleeping. The resulting images were printed, and the process of this constant reworking would begin again while new images, contributed by Matija, were added as he sent me snapshots from my home and bedroom in Brooklyn and later his own home and bedroom in Pula, Croatia while I was in Woodstock. The project is grounded in and around these exchanges, and consists of three parts: I. Self-portrait, II. Lav (Matija), and, III. Displacements (the redirection of an emotion from its original object to another, or the distance between an objects initial position and a later position). It is about meetings, and how the practice of art-making seeks to construct and define relationships.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya received his BFA in Photography and Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Basel, Sydney, Toronto, Paris, Berlin and Hamburg. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Interview, Capricious, V, Paper, and BUTT, among others. Recent exhibitions include 30 Seconds Off an Inch at The Studio Museum in Harlem and 50 Artists Photograph the Future at Higher Pictures (both in NYC) and recent awards include the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency (2009-2010) and Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2010). A monograph of his work was published in April 2007. The Accidental Egyptian and Occidental Arrangements, a publication of his collaboration with fellow artist Timothy Hull, was published in the summer of 2010.