Lyle Ashton Harris, The Watering Hole, 1996
Suite of 9 photomontages, 30″ x 40″ each framed.
Image courtesy of the artist, CRG Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art, 2013

The Museum of Modern Art in New York recently acquired The Watering Hole, by Lyle Ashton Harris. First exhibited in 1996 at Jack Tilton Gallery, the work could be loosely interpreted as an investigation into the narrative of Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer who garnered public attention in 1991 and was known for having killed a multitude of young men (most of whom were black and hispanic) after luring them back to his apartment. A seminal piece whereas the artist presents information, inserting himself into the dialogue by way of  images both appropriated and his own, collaged and then re-flattened via the lens of the camera. The work offers the viewer a glimpse into the concept of chance and the unknown, through an ominous red filter.  Delving into sexuality, Americana and masculinity, each panel reflects upon the happenstance of time along with the fetishization of the male body, exploration in victimization and Dahmer himself. A watering hole is a place to gather, to meet others and usually to drink. It is a place of convergence and in the horrific story of Jeffrey Dahmer the location where most of his victims were lured from. Harris’ Watering Hole, in the context of the museum, will now give new meaning while allowing those to gather without the promise of a drink, but instead the opportunity to participate in a much bigger conversation.


Lyle Ashton Harris, The Watering Hole, #3, 1996
Image courtesy of the artist, CRG Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art, 2013

In statement sent out by the artist via email, he states:

It has become increasingly clear how central this work is to my overall practice and oeuvre, combining self-portraiture, collage, the personal and the political, as well as engaging with the medium of photography in ways that I continue to explore and expand upon in my latest work.
Many thanks to Aggie Gund, Roxana Marcoci, Glenn Lowry and CRG Gallery for their combined efforts in making this possible.

The Watering Hole, was most recently on view during Art Basel Miami in 2012 through CRG Gallery.

More soon!