Lyle Ashton Harris / Mapping Desire

Mar 28 – May 23, 2015

Lyle Ashton Harris (b. 1965) cultivates his diverse artistic practice for almost three decades. His work spreads over different fields and mediums such as photography, video, collage, installation and performance. Harris’s work explores the conflation between narratives of the personal and the political. In probing these social boundaries, Harris reexamines the ways that ethnicity, desire, and masculinity operate in the broader social and contemporary culture.


Born in New York City, Harris spent his formative years in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. His exposure to ethnic and Western cultures has shaped his view. Since the beginning of his career, Harris has been dealing with questions of identity.
He examines the culture gaps from a dual point of view – the American on the one hand and the African on the other, and creating a hybrid by appropriated icons and figures associated with both cultures.


Harris began employing self-portraiture in his practice in the early 1980’s, as a way to further explore gender and social stereotypes. Through his self-portraits, he creates an alternative to the well-known method of portrait work. Thus he examines collective ideas about “The Other”, rather than the individual autobiography.


Especially in his collages, Harris recalls the art-historical traditions of the collage as a form of social commentary, as seen in the work of Hannah Höch and Robert Rauschenberg, for example. His collages indicate on his comprehensive vision and reveal his intellectual methodology. By presenting a mixture of self-portraits along with cultural icons, Harris seeks to challenge the norms of popular culture.


Lyle Ashton Harris’s works have been exhibited internationally, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the 52nd Venice Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT, Gallery Maruani & Mercier, Brussels, Belgium, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., Brooklyn Museum of Art and more.