Sara Greenberger Rafferty: An Audience

Opening: Friday, Feb 23, 2024 5 – 8 pm
Friday, Feb 23 – Apr 6, 2024
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1709 W. Chicago
Chicago, IL 60622

DOCUMENT is pleased to announce the opening of An Audience, Sara Greenberger Rafferty’s fourth exhibition at the gallery.

The installation presents a series of large-scale reliefs, female silhouettes composed from panels of kiln-fired glass fused with photographic images, alongside unframed contact prints, a method of cameraless photography that stages various permutations of the wall-based sculptures through form and color. Spanning the gallery walls to compose a frontal line, the works on view invoke a crowd of inanimate bodies—reminiscent of discarded mannequins, life-sized diagrams transposed from anatomy textbooks, forensic crime scene outlines or autopsy reports—a collection of anonymous and enigmatic figures of display. While the figure remains consistent throughout each work, different objects occupy the body or its surrounding field: magnifying glasses, yardsticks, sardines, an eyeshadow palette reminiscent of color checkers used in studio photography, among other items. Across these disparate markers, each exists as a unit of measurement, of how closely things can be observed or arranged in proximity to our eyes or one another. 

The exhibition features Rafferty’s ongoing investigations into understanding how contemporary life is assembled through images—not in linear fashion or sequentially, but all at once. Her subjects are conveyed through iconography, an approach to representation that denies a spatial environment in favor of the flatness embraced by glyphic signs and symbols. Across Rafferty’s installation, three-dimensional space is not being collapsed into two dimensions, but created from it.

Sara Greenberger Rafferty (b. 1978) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has been engaged in work, research, and teaching largely around what she calls ‘comedy as artistic strategy.’ That is, taking aesthetic and thematic cues from comedians to create artworks that are informed by the aesthetics and practices of humor, but may not be funny. She uses tropes and stereotypes of comedy – repetition, hyperbole, thwarted expectations, undercutting, doubling, slapstick – to emphasize the individual in the group, and call upon an already both awkward and confident social body. In materiality and installation, she refers to monitors, technological products, embodiment, and the physicality of seemingly disembodied pictures as they traverse the digital landscape.

Taking inspiration from expanded photography practices, she creates wall work, sculpture, and installation. She simultaneously crafts strong handmade and machine-assisted objects while eschewing dominant notions of masterful craftsmanship.

In her career she has mounted over twenty solo exhibitions at museums and galleries around the world, including four at DOCUMENT, Chicago. Her most recent institutional solo exhibition, Forum 85, was presented at the Carnegie Museum of Art at the end of 2021. In 2014 she was included in the Whitney Biennial, and her first solo exhibition was presented at MOMA/PS1 in New York in early 2006.

Her work is included in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Yale University Art Museum, New Haven, CT; the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Chicago, IL; and the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, NH and dozens of private collections.

She is currently Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Photography at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Studio Visit, Rafferty’s recent experimental monograph, was published by Inventory Press in fall 2022.

Image: Sara Greenberger Rafferty, An Audience (Yellow Variation, Blue, Green Variation, Lime Green Variation), 2024, laminated inkjet prints, 80 × 36 each.