Liz Deschenes

Rates (Frames per Second)

May 4 — June 17, 2018



Miguel Abreu Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Rates (Frames per Second), Liz Deschenes’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition will take place at both gallery locations. With this new body of work, Deschenes furthers her inquiry into the history of image production techniques and the conditions of viewing developed in previous series, such as Zoetropes and Stereographs. Here, she takes as reference experimentations of 19th-century scientist and chronophotographer, Étienne-Jules Marey.

The works shown at 88 Eldridge Street take Marey’s protocinematic inventions as point of departure. In 1889, he developed a machine that recorded movement using photography, thus providing a technological basis for commercial motion pictures. Producing photographs on a strip of sensitized film moving at a rate of 60 frames per second, Marey’s camera created the illusion of movement. It is important for Deschenes, however, that Marey wasn’t interested in reproducing reality or creating illusions, which defined the industry of spectacle. His objective was that of recording spatial and temporal dimensions of movement in order to analyze it in real time.

Confronted with four equally wide, monumental multi-part works that span the length of entire gallery walls, the viewer is here immediately engaged in a rhythmic progression through space, as he or she passes by a succession of thin strips of silver-toned photograms positioned at a constant interval from one another. The phenomenological experience produced by this rigorous sequencing of space is akin to a physical impression of time passing, of the body’s movement being captured in formation. The variously reflective texture of the photosensitive paper on display, coupled as the show unfolds with the widening individual panels comprising the works, affords a subtle sensation of gradual embodiment. Further, the cinematic apparatus of the running film strip representing reality, which Deschenes allegorically alludes to, is reversed to reveal through the photographic objects’ mirroring material a fuzzy image of the passerby in staccato motion, while the photograms themselves, if you will, remain installed and fixed in place.

The slightly concave photograms shown at 36 Orchard Street refer to Marey’s diagrams, which record human steps with the use of photosensitive paper. The horizontal, rectangular shape of the panels in this series corresponds to chronographic representations of the duration that a person’s foot stays on the ground while walking at various speeds.

In line with Marey’s approach, Deschenes’s photograms are not stand-ins for experience like pictorial photography, instead they point to the material conditions of their production and display. The four sequences of photograms, exhibited at 88 Eldridge Street, operate simultaneously as records of the environmental conditions of their exposure and handling, and as markers of physical space and the labor-time required to produce and install them.


Liz Deschenes (b. 1966, Boston) graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1988. She teaches at Bennington College and is a visiting artist at Columbia University’s School of Visual Arts and Yale University. She was the recipient of the 2014 Rappaport Prize. Deschenes has recently presented her work in a series of two-person exhibitions with Sol LeWitt at Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco (2017), Miguel Abreu Gallery and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (both 2016). Her work was the subject of a 2016 survey exhibition at the ICA/Boston. In 2015, Deschenes presented solo exhibitions at MASS MoCA and the Walker Art Center, and was included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Musée d’Art Moderne, the Centre Pompidou, and Extra City Kunsthal in Antwerp. Her work was featured in Sites of Reason: A Selection of Recent Acquisitions at the Museum of Modern Art in 2014, and in What Is a Photograph? (International Center for Photography, New York). In 2013, she exhibited new work in tandem solo exhibitions at Campoli Presti (Paris and London), and group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Fotomuseum Winterthur, among others. She was included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and had a one-person exhibition at the Secession in Vienna and a two-person exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago that she co-curated with Florian Pumhösl and Matthew Witkovsky. Previously, her work has also been exhibited at the CCS Bard Hessel Museum, the Aspen Art Museum, Klosterfelde (Berlin), the Walker Art Center, the Langen Foundation (Düsseldorf), the Tate Liverpool, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

 Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, and The Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

Recent monographs dedicated to Deschenes’s work include Liz Deschenes, Boston: The Institute of Contemporary Art, 2016, and Liz Deschenes, Secession, Vienna: Secession, Berlin: Revolver, 2012.