Se Sou Ou Mwen Mete Espwa m (I Put All My Hopes On You)
Deana Lawson regularly places her sitters in corners, which enhances the sense of depth and environment within the photograph—but also accentuates the power of the medium to frame the truth. In Lawson’s current Guggenheim show, “Centropy," her interest in corners is also on view, not just in the work but also in the show’s exhibition design. The farthest edge of the gallery, for instance, features a strip of crystal-encrusted photographs which run along the seam of the corner. This unorthodox presentation not only enhances the cinematic and sculptural quality of Lawson’s imagery, but also demands a reverence for message and medium.
“Se Sou Ou Mwen Mete Espwa m (I Put All My Hopes On You),” Widline Cadet’s first New York solo show at Deli gallery’s Tribeca space, utilizes the same corner-hugging hanging method to different effect. A pair of small-scale inkjet prints, family photos from Cadet’s childhood, are encased in thick frames which kiss in one corner, mirroring the doubling that she often explores in her self-portraiture and figurative compositions. Her images regularly feature twins, or rather, digitally manipulated images that make it appear as if its subjects were a pair. Take, for example, Nou Fè Pati, Nou Se, Nou Anvi (We Belong, We be, We Long) (2020), which features the artist posed as the double-humped silhouette of two women bent over in gingham dresses before a matching sheet of fabric. As in the corner pair, this pairing of the new and the archival is essential to drawing out a sense of motion: the abundance of limbs recall the Hindu goddess Shiva’s many arms, impressing upon us the speed and complications of a present that cannot be contained within the two-dimensional limits of photograph, or even of memory. By pointing to this insufficiency, Cadet teases out her primary subject matter: the realities of being a Haitian-American immigrant, and the effects of that diasporic experience both on individual identity and on culture at large.
Cadet’s photography reaches towards truth through the rabbit hole of recollection, fashioning believability from the appearance of visual transparency. The components to each photograph are made obvious—the shutter release, for instance, regularly appears in the frame—so that a viewer never feels the sense of being tricked. In a sea of self-appointed content creators, Cadet seems to anoint herself a true believer, quietly relearning how to see.
Widline Cadet, Ki Jan Nou Wè Tèt Nou Nan Tan Kap Vini An #1 (How We See Ourselves In(to) The Future #1), 2020. Archival Inkjet Print, Artist Frame, 40 × 32 × 2 inches.