Misugoshi: Three Flags (swiped)
Digital pigment print on matte paper
113.5 x 64 cm
Edition of 35 copies numbered and signed by the artist on a certificate, plus 5 artist’s proofs and 2 publisher’s proofs
This edition is the first presentation of a new series of photographs made by Louise Lawler. The artist took them in museums by deliberately moving her camera while the shutter was open, thus blurring the artworks’ outlines and shifting the perspectives. With its vaporous surfaces and layering effects, Misugoshi: Three Flags (swiped) acquires an almost pictorial quality. Jasper Johns’ iconic Three Flags (1958) dissolves into abstraction—an ironic reversal for a painting that had challenged the abstract dogma of its own time.
This “swipe series” is in line with Lawler’s fifty-year practice of bringing to light the conditions in which art is preserved, shown, distributed and received, and it merits a specific comparison to her recent series LIGHTS OFF, AFTER HOURS, IN THE DARK. These photographs were taken at night, during Donald Judd’s 2020 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Using long exposures, Lawler photographed Judd’s minimalist sculptures under the dim light emanating from exit signs, alarm systems, and skylights. This ghostly esthetics aptly expresses the solitary nocturnal life of artworks, as well as the dark tonality of the pandemic times. In Misugoshi: Three Flags (swiped), the lights are finally turned on, but the shadows have given way to blurry trails. Even though museums are now open to the public, the works seem to remain unnoticed, overlooked (“misugoshi” in Japanese) or simply “swiped”—the title hinting at the contemporary consumption of images on touchscreens.
In many ways, Misugoshi: Three Flags (swiped) constitutes a new and important chapter in Louise Lawler’s long-lasting exploration of the ways in which artworks do—and do not—appear to us.
Louise Lawler’s exhibition took place at Keijiban from May 15 to June 14, 2022.