November 6, 2013 - December 1, 2013
Based on his experiences caring for a parent struggling with depression and schizophrenia, Joshua Lutz’s series Hesitating Beauty brings together old family snapshots alongside the artist’s portraits of his mother, in addition to staged dream-like photographs that emphasize the confusion and pain associated with mental illness. Many have described the series as “creative nonfiction,” as the resulting narrative is part archive, part reinterpretation of the past, and ultimately resists a linear progression of events. Others argue that it is potentially a more accurate document than what traditional methods of storytelling might produce. In the preface for his book of the same name, Lutz explains his process and motivations informing the project:
“Looking back on the family archive for clues to understanding, my role in shaping that story began to evolve from my memory of how it exists into an overwhelming need to change it. Falling deeper into the psychosis, I imagined a time when the past, present, and future collided; a place where the weight of those memories is heavier than reality.”
Lutz began photographing his mother in high school as a way of separating himself from his mother’s illness, but Hesitating Beauty did not emerge as a conceptual project until 2008. At that time Lutz was also reading a biography of Woody Guthrie, whom he found had also coped with mental illness for much of his life and had coincidentally stayed in the same psychiatric hospital as his mother at one point. Soon, the female character in the American folksinger’s song “Hesitating Beauty” began to merge with Lutz’s mother within the project’s narrative, subsequently deciding the title for the series.
Joshua Lutz (b. 1975) is a photographer living and working in New York. He holds a BFA from Bard College and graduated with an MFA from Bard College, the International Center of Photography. In 2008 Lutz released his first monographic book, Meadowlands, followed by the publication of Hesitating Beauty in 2012. Lutz has exhibited solo shows at Robert Koch Gallery in San Francisco and Clamp Art in New York City, and he has participated in group exhibitions in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, São Paulo, and Montreal. He is a faculty member in the photography department at The Graduate School of Bard College, the International Center of Photography, and recently received a grant from the prestigious Aaron Siskind Foundation. Lutz’s work has been featured in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and The New York Times Magazine.