Trevor Paglen

Artist lecture Friday, March 16, 2018 7PM
Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
Trevor Paglen, Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite (Design 4; Build 4), 2013.

Trevor Paglen’s work encompasses image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing, engineering, and numerous other disciplines. He has been described as “an experimental geographer and photographer, whose work blurs the lines between science, journalism and art.” In short, his work defies categorization. He has spent much of the last decade researching, documenting and writing about “dark spots on the map”—spaces concealed by state and military classification. An area of recurring interest for Paglen is learning how to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures.

Paglen developed a method of “limit telephotography,” which uses high-power telescopes in combination with cameras, to photograph secret prisons and military bases. In an ongoing body of photographs known collectively as The Other Night Sky, Paglen works with amateur astronomers to document classified satellites that orbit the earth. The mysterious images of the physical manifestations of military power hover between abstraction and information, between the inscrutable and the mundane. They are at once compelling as visual compositions and chilling as photographic documentation of activities that are otherwise based on speculation. More recently, Paglen has explored the ocean floor to make photographs of underwater fiber optic cables that circle the Earth and enable internet connection and developed tools to show what artificial intelligence networks and other autonomous surveillance systems “see” when they look at the world.

Some of his other projects include: launching an artwork into distant orbit around Earth (in collaboration with Creative Time and MIT), working on the Academy Award-winning film Citizenfour, and creating a radioactive public sculpture for the exclusion zone in Fukushima, Japan.

Paglen lives and works between Berlin, New York, and Berkeley. He received his BA and PhD from University of California, Berkeley and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the author of many books and articles on subjects including experimental geography, state secrecy, military symbology, photography, and visuality. He has received numerous awards, including a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship and the 2016 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. He has exhibited widely, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Berkeley Art Museum; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Tate Modern, London; Kunsthall Oslo; and Kunsthalle Giessen, Germany. Later this year, his mid-career survey exhibition Sights Unseen will open at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. and he plans to launch an artwork into outer space (Orbital Reflector) with the Nevada Museum of Art.


Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program

Pier 24 Photography is pleased to present the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program in collaboration with California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Each year, the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program brings six photographers, writers, and curators to San Francisco to offer free and open lectures, and to work one-on-one with students at California College of the Arts.


Larry Sultan Photography Award


Bieke Depoorter, from the series I am about to call it a day, 2010.

Bieke Depoorter

Fall 2018 Residency
Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA

Click HERE for more information on the Larry Sultan Photography Award

Photographer Bieke Depoorter (b. 1986, Belgium) travels the world to find her subjects, creating extraordinarily intimate photographs that straddle portraiture, documentary, and fiction. The relationships she creates with those she photographs are the key to her work. As Depoorter describes it, “The relationships I establish with my subjects are the foundation of my artistic practice…. The resulting stories are always partially mine, partially theirs.”

In her early work, Depoorter traveled to far-flung locales in Russia, Egypt, and the United States, befriending locals to photograph. She asked her subjects if she could spend the night in their homes, building rapport and trust that eventually allowed her to capture the mundane, routine, ordinary moments of their lives. Depoorter’s first such project, Ou Menya, documented her encounters in the homes of locals in Russia. She completed a similar, long-term project in the United States titled I am about to call it a day.

In As It May Be, a project photographed in Egypt beginning just after the revolution in 2011, she tried to find trust in a time of turmoil and suspicion, in an environment where private life is often shielded. With this project, she also started to question her use of the photographic medium. Conscious of her status as an outsider, she returned to Egypt in 2017 with the first draft of the book, inviting others to write comments directly on the photographs. Contrasting views on country, religion, society, and photography arise among people who would otherwise never engage in a dialogue with one another. In Sete#15 (2015) and the short film Dvalemodus (2017), she began to conceive of her subjects as actors, projecting her own fictional narratives onto her subjects’ factual environments, thereby blurring the line between her world and theirs. In her most recent projects, such as the ongoing project Agata (2017), Depoorter works even more collaboratively with her subjects.

She has published four books, and her work has been shown in the United States and Europe, including Photomuseum The Hague, The Netherlands and an upcoming exhibition at FOMU Antwerp, Belgium. She joined the Magnum agency as a nominee in 2012 and a full member in 2016. She is the recipient of the Magnum Expression award and the Prix levallois, among other accolades.

Depoorter lives and works in Ghent, Belgium.