Instructional Photographs

Assignments and tasks have been a part of the arts at least since Yoko Ono’s celebrated book Grapefruit, with its deadpan instructions on dada-inspired actions. Much of performance art in its heyday involved artists giving themselves labors, such as Ann Hamilton’s enormous piles of clothing to be sorted, or Tom Marioni drinking enough Anchor Steam beer to fill his bladder, and then relieving himself into a bucket while standing on a ladder. LissaIvy brings this tradition into the 21st century in Instructional Photographs, her MFA thesis project. Friends and acquaintances are asked to assign her to make a photograph of a poetic emotional or psychological state that they describe, becoming collaborative instigators of her work. A large-scale photograph is indeed the result, along with related visual materials. The exhibition is a conglomeration of these assignments received on postcards, her resulting photoworks, ephemera, notes and marginalia, that in fact document the artist’s circle of peers in a place and time, forming a kind of time capsule. Photography is finding digital means to liberate itself from the tyranny of the rectangle, through conceptual approaches as well as new formal possibilities. LissaIvy contextualizes her lens-based work as one possibility for visual expression among many other forms of self-documentation.

– Renny Pritikin