The 84th installment of Carnegie Museum of Art’s Forum series debuts a new body of work, titled Devotions, by New York-based artist Elle Pérez (b. 1989, Bronx, New York).
For Pérez, human intimacy serves as both subject matter and framework for making photographs. From one series to the next, Pérez centers their own personal connections to individuals, community, and place, creating a palpable sense of familiarity in their photographs. Rather than stand outside looking in as other photographers might, Pérez works through their creative process as a friend, a lover, an intimate participant. “Intimacy intrigues me with its mysteries,” the artist has said. “The ties between my gender identity, kink, sexuality, pleasure, and pain are all interwoven. Instead of attempting to untangle them, I work within these complexities.”
In this new body of work, titled Devotions, Pérez explores love, sex, and friendship as well as the vulnerability, agency, and power dynamics that result from intimate relationships. Through striking choices in proximity, scale, color, light, and cropping, Pérez creates vivid and at times otherworldly depictions of bodies in motion, stillness, or embrace. Themes of touch and landscape course through this new series while water recurs as a unifying natural element. An ambiguous narrative emerges from Pérez’s carefully sequenced images—moments of grief and care, pain and pleasure, desire and self-exploration—creating space for us to reflect on how we define ourselves and our lived experiences in relation to others and the wider world.
Elle Pérez is organized by Hannah Turpin, curatorial assistant for modern and contemporary art and photography with Dan Leers, curator of photography.
About the Forum Series
Carnegie Museum of Art’s Forum series is a dynamic program of exhibitions by some of today’s most innovative contemporary artists. Initiated in 1990, the series has presented more than 80 exhibitions, including museum debuts for many artists who have gone on to achieve international renown.