Leigh Ledare at Wiels
Unseemly, Disturbing, Ominous

Issue no3
June - July 2020
Troebele waters

If you think that every ethical boundary in photography has been breached by now, you haven’t seen the work of the American photographer Leigh Ledare yet. His work balances on the boundary of the permissible, and according to many, is just over the edge. His exhibition Leigh Ledare, et al, opens Saturday at Wiels in Brussels. Have a look at a preview of the exhibition and the interview with Ledare in Metropolis M No. 4-2012.

—Agnieszka GratzaWhereas your mother is obviously a looming presence in your work, your father hardly features in it at all. I was struck by one quote, actually a dedication from Something Might Have Been Better Than Nothing [an exhibition with Per Billgren in Berlin, 2011 – ed.]: ‘For our fathers, mild men.’ Could you comment on that?

—Leigh Ledare‘There’s a lot in the work that’s activated through absence, so in a sense that was an allusion to that. There are maybe two mentions of him in Pretend You’re Actually Alive. That book is only ostensibly a portrait of my mother and then, beyond that, it’s really about social dynamics and all the interrelations between the different partners and the different triangles that happen within relationships.’

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—Agnieszka GratzaCould you say something about the genealogy of the book, how it came into being? What made you embark on this project?

—Leigh Ledare‘There are many different stages to this work, which spans the course of eight years, and feelings that I’m responding to. At one point there’s a kind of anger that fuels the making of the images, or a sense of the absurdity of the situation that I found myself in, where my mother was imposing her sexuality on me.’

—Agnieszka GratzaBut you were complicit, weren’t you?

—Leigh Ledare‘Well, the way I’ve told the story and the way it happened was that I came home one day, after not seeing her for a year, and she opened the door entirely naked, smiling smugly at me. She was with this younger guy who happened to be in bed with her and they were involved in something. I began photographing and I couldn’t quite believe it: it was inappropriate, troubling, alarming.’


Leigh Ledare, et al.
8 September - 25 November 2012
Wiels, Brussels

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Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 3 — 2020