Erin Leland is a performer, photographer and writer with an MFA from The University of Illinois, Chicago. In the Spring of 2010, Susanne Ghez curated Erin into the New Insight exhibition at Art Chicago, a competitive annual survey of work from twelve graduate programs nation-wide. Erin has also shown with Swimming Pool Project Space, Gallery 400, and Iceberg Gallery in Chicago.
Her writing is often the backside or equivalent to a photograph, placed within sight of other installed stories and pictures. Leland treats the camera as a performative tool. The action of taking a photograph is a way to negotiate the private and public, and to capture this line in construction. Photography is a performance that questions what is allowably seen.
Erin Leland’s residency will be an exploration of the subject of reclaiming one’s own image. Her work explores various dimensions of self-interpretation and reinterpretation, such as retellings of one’s autobiography. She also examines where and how often we are caught unaware by our own reflection.
Of various examples of this exploration one is found in Leland’s archive with another artist, Michael. Beginning two years ago, Erin Leland appeared in a series of photographs with another artist named Michael. They were not collaborators, but two people sharing a group of pictures. The images are not by rule explicit, but many are. Michael had also been her art teacher. Michael died on the day that Leland took these photographs down from a gallery. She excerpted her edit from the only photographs he gave her – some, a few thousand, not all of them. His face is absent in the pictures she has shown. He passed away without a will leaving the photographs to no one. The archive of the ten-thousand pictures remains with his two sons in a locked computer under heavy password protection. Leland wishes to compile the photographs (those she owns and those she has never owned), the written correspondences between herself and Michael, and her written request to his sons for her image, into a book.
The book will take the factual elements of the possessed photographs, their status as heavily protected, withheld, then inadvertently slighted, as a starting point. The book will not only be collected material, but a written fiction described through legal and imagined ownerships.