Deborah Luster Lecture
Since the 1990’s, Deborah Luster has used photography, installation and text to investigate her ongoing relationship with violence and its consequences. Luster, who lives in New Orleans and Galway, Ireland, worked for six years in the prisons of Louisiana, including the infamous maximum-security prison at Angola, to produce a series of formal portraits of inmates. One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana features silver-gelatin portraits printed on metal plates, with text etched on the plate backs. When exhibited, the archive is housed in a black steel cabinet. Viewers are obliged to pull open the heavy cabinet drawers to touch and view the images.
Luster’s recent body of work, Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish is a photographic installation documenting contemporary and historical homicide sites in New Orleans, the murder capital of the United States. The result is an exploration of the “dizzyingly empty space at the core of violence.” Luster approaches this invisible, excised population obliquely, with haunting, unpopulated photographs that seem to exist outside of time, simultaneously distant and chillingly close.
For the PhotoNOLA 2013 keynote lecture, Luster will present an overview of her work to date, sharing insights into her long-term projects, along with some images from her current series on the inmate-produced Passion Play at the Angola State Penitentiary.
In 2013 Deborah Luster was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her previous honors include the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize, an Anonymous Was A Woman Award, a Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant, the John Gutmann Photography Fellowship, and the Baum Award for Emerging American Photographers. Most recently, Luster has been awarded a 2014 residency at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.
Luster has two monographs published by Twin Palms Publishers: One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana (2003) and Tooth for an Eye (2011). Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Pier 24; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the New Orleans Museum of Art; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art; and other notable collections. She is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery (New York) and Arthur Roger Gallery (New Orleans).