Photographic Installation by Thomas Heinser

January 31 – February 28, 2020

Susan Sontag famously wrote, “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” Thomas’s Heisner’s photographic installation, Proof, points to a slightly different conclusion. By showing 330 images of people of all ages (some of whom are the same person at different ages) time doesn’t seem to melt as much as slip and slide, swoop and circle. Confined in a large grid, the individual portraits read like a musical score, allowing us to experience time’s essential relativity.

Babies can recognize their parent’s faces within a few weeks and process all faces almost as efficiently as adults by the age of four months. What begins as necessity, to understand who can and can’t offer nurture, becomes for many a lifelong fascination with essentially the same question – who is this person before me? Heinser’s prowess as a photographer rests on his ability to know there is no stable answer. What he captures beneath the distraction of mutability is something both exhilarating and unnerving – our identities are not fixed even in the course of a sitting. Taken together, Heinser’s portraits offer proof we each contain multitudes and that any one of them may peek out at any time.

Tracy Wheeler 01 2020