Hashimoto Contemporary is pleased to present Joel Daniel Phillips’ latest body of work. Elaborating on his Killing the Negative series, the Tulsa-based artist’s debut Los Angeles solo exhibition expands on his signature charcoal and graphite drawings with his first publicly available oil paintings.
Grappling with race, class, the environment and stratified socio-economic issues, Killing the Negative is a meditative response to a selection of Government censored photographs commissioned by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) during the Great Depression. Phillip’s work centers around questions of truth, historical amnesia, and the strength of the stories we tell ourselves about our collective pasts. The broader FSA images are well known, and images like “Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange have become some of the most recognizable and important images in the American photographic lexicon. Less known, however, is the process by which these images were selected for publication: Roy Stryker was the head of the FSA, and was tasked with deciding which of the eventual 145,000 commissioned photographs would be published.. For the first 4 years of the project, many images he deemed unworthy were “killed” by punching a hole in the original negative.
Killing the Negative explores Stryker’s destructive editing process as a commentary on truth and the veracity of the historical record. His enormous act of editing bears more import than we know to our understanding of our history. It calls into question our reliance on this record, bringing into startling clarity the power that a single individual had to shape the collective understanding of an entire nation. When translated into drawings and paintings, the physical subtraction created by the hole-punch acts as a further visual addition, an indelible record of the shaping of the narrative, with the circular void both destroying the original image and simultaneously creating an entirely new one.
Expanding on themes of censorship, violence and erasure within the Killing the Negative series, the new oil paintings mark a shift in Phillips’ practice. Each detailed composition is rendered in vibrant reds, evocative of the blood lines and history shared with each of the subjects and their contemporary viewers.
Opening Reception: Saturday, Oct. 9th from noon to 8pm – vaccination and mask required
Artist Talk and reading with Qurayash Ali Lansana: Saturday, Oct. 9th at 4pm
On View: Oct. 9 – 30