Sign Language by Margeaux Walter

Margeaux Walter is an artist born in Seattle, Washington, and now living in New York City.  She received her BFA from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts (2006), and MFA from Hunter College (2014).  Her artwork has been exhibited at institutions around the country including Winston Wachter Fine Art in New York, Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia, the Griffin Museum in Boston, the Tacoma Art Museum.  In 2009, the Magenta Foundation chose her as a top emerging photographer in the United States; she was awarded Juror’s Choice at the Butler Institute of American Art’s National Midyear Exhibition; and she was commissioned to create a large-scale outdoor installation for the Art Omi Fields Sculpture Park in Ghent, NY.  In 2014, she was selected by the organization 14×48 to create a public billboard project in New York. 

Sign Language is a series of photographs that collapse everyday life into a form of abstraction. The images are about the fragility of identity in relation to consumer culture. Each image is a domestic scene that is then deconstructed into varying levels of chaos and order, obscuring the identities of the figures within them. My domestic sets reference Jung’s idea that one’s house is a representation of their psyche.  These images and much of my work embody a level of anxiety around being seen, or a fear of disappearing. In questioning how we decipher the world, absorb influences and reveal ourselves, I create imagery where identity is increasingly in flux ­­– varyingly disappearing, fracturing, or grossly accumulating. In these scenes the characters represent a class of constant consumption, surrounded and many times even obscured by their possessions and environments. 

For each piece I wanted to form a dialogue with modernist painting – to flatten space, camouflage elements, and transform daily routines and moments into abstract shapes. Each photograph is shot extremely high resolution by tiling multiple images of the same set, allowing the viewer to see various levels of abstraction as they move towards the image.  The stylization of the images references the visual cues of advertising – staged environments, studio lighting, and saturated colors.  By using myself as a model, I can experience each environment I build and the claustrophobia of aligning perfectly within it.  The performative aspect of the work forces me to spend time physically and psychologically in each of my manufactured worlds, with a nod to the constructed nature of images in commercial media.

All photos by Margeaux Walter