Apr 16th 2021

DOCUMENT is pleased to present Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition will open on April 16 and will be on view until May 29. Appointments are encouraged to visit the gallery.

What does it take to make a photograph? In Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s world, it takes a village. A very small one at that, but a village nonetheless. After decades of Sontagian tenor in criticism positioning photography as a “profoundly un- or a-relational medium,” is it possible imagine the photographic/document not as a hierarchy-reinforcing by-product of relationships, but as the matrix of friendships, love, and solidarity itself?

To do so requires touching without gloves on, contact in the age of contactless deliveries, and accounting for the passage of time when the privileged few have complained for too long about time having come to a standstill. In Sepuya’s new exhibition Stage, the artist responds to the question as he has always done: without starry-eyed metaphors or empty promises of unadulterated access to subjecthood. Sepuya’s photographs at DOCUMENT are often eager to dispel the mythology of the “decisive moment” and reveal their support structures in the broader sense of the term—tripods, pedestals, a friend’s hand pressing the shutter as the artist adjusts the lens.

However, at the same time, Sepuya’s most recent work with self-supporting mirror-platforms on wheels takes on a different valence after a year of unmitigated racial injustice and trying lockdowns. The architectural container of his social and artistic matrix seems to endlessly shrink and expand; fingerprints on mirrors more acutely index both time and absences. Two hands appear to almost touch as they curl around either side of the movable mirror, but it may just be yet another reflection—if not already, a remembrance of other times.

— Gökcan Demirkazik

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