Zoe Leonard’s photographs of such diverse subject matter as water, maps, museum displays, mirrors, bullfights, and fashion shows will also be included in the exhibition. These pictures are distinguished by the impression of their having been stolen more than taken with a camera; the images appear to be the result of Leonard’s seizing split-second opportunities or hurrying so as not to get caught. Thus her photographs have a transfixing and exclusive power, as if they are giving us a privileged glimpse behind the scenes. Leonard’s pictures are both impulsive and calculated, keenly balanced between visceral fascination and political purpose. The more we look at them, the more mesmerized and/or repulsed we are by them.
This push/pull effect forces our cognitive skills to rationalize, or resolve, this conflict. We begin to order the images along the lines of vanity, voyeurism, or ritualized violence. We begin to see similarities between an image of a bullfight and one of a wax female figure with her internal organs exposed for medical examination, and yet replete with pubic hair and a double strand of pearls.