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Introduction

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, in partnership with Mason Exhibitions at George Mason University, will present exhibitions of the work of Laurel Nakadate. The exhibitions will be guest curated by Lily Siegel and Donald Russell.

Laurel Nakadate artwork

Laurel Nakadate, The Kingdom #10, 2018

Laurel Nakadate (American, b. 1975) explores self-representation, identity formation, relationships amongst strangers, and loneliness. Her work predates yet foreshadows the onslaught of social media including Instagram, Facebook, freelance marketplaces like fiverr and Upwork, and DNA relative finders like 23andMe. The exhibitions on view will highlight the artist’s most recent bodies of work that investigate her personal family history, love, and loss, through a matriarchal framing.

Mason Exhibitions will present a selection of photographs from the Relations series, begun in 2013. In Relations, Nakadate travelled across the country photographing familial “matches” that she discovered through a commercial DNA testing service. The series includes features direct relatives of her mother and each photograph was taken at night with a single light source at a location of their choice.

Her mother died shortly thereafter before having the opportunity to hold Nakadate’s newborn son. In The Kingdom series, Nakadate depicts grandmother and grandchild together through the merging of photographs of the infant with photographs spanning the grandmother’s life. To accomplish this final image, Nakadate hired technicians over the internet to photo edit her son into the arms of mother. The entire series will be shown together for the first time at Tephra ICA.

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