The works featured in Joshua Hagler’s Platform exhibition depict both the victims and perpetrators of mass shootings.
The cases of such shootings in America are now so numerous they bleed into one statistical mass, these works attempt to imbue past events with a renewed sense of reality. In honing in on individual cases, Hagler is asking the viewer to really contemplate what these tragedies mean, not just for those personally affected, but for humanity on a wider scale. These works are attempts to bridge an insurmountable temporal and epistemological gap – one can never fully understand, just as one can never return to life, however Hagler’s practice is concerned with partial possibilities. The artist, standing in liminal space, can look both backwards and forwards with a sense of discovery, ultimately producing work with a certain poignancy, work with a didactic quality.
When the artist was very young, his brother passed away. At the end of 2019, months before the arrival of his baby daughter, his work began to focus on the role art can play as a mediator between the past, present and future. As Hagler explains, it can sometimes feel as though those who are arriving are arriving from among the departed; he felt the essence of this cyclical renewal and regeneration was something his paintings could capture and expose.
The paintings were installed in an abandoned school in New Mexico.
This pervasive feeling of isolation chimes with Hagler, who has always been interested in places of loss; it is a mnemonic environment that instills a kind of fraternal solace in the artist.
Self-portrait as Someone Unseen is not a self-portrait in the traditional sense of the word. Hagler worked from the image of Nathaniel, a perpetrator of a mass shooting in Los Angeles, choosing to make a self-portrait that wasn’t in his own likeness. Instead he continued his method for creating self-portraits which merges a sense of personal artistic feeling with the image of someone undesirable, as a kind of gesture toward living in the skin of those who are feared or ostracised. In Hagler’s mind this is a strategy for staying close to the subject and understanding it.
The Sound depicts Jordan Anchondo, a 25-year-old woman who was shot dead in an El Paso Walmart last year. When the shooting began, Jordan shielded her son, falling on top of him when she was shot. Her husband also died in the shooting, leaving behind an orphan, a baby alive only through the power of love and sacrifice.
The Time Given V.I is the companion piece to The Sound. It deals with the same event in El Paso in 2019, when a white supremacist targeting Latinos and immigrants shot and killed 20 people in a Walmart. The Time Given V.I and The Sound went on to function as studies for the larger Time Given and Trace of the Mother IV respectively.
Like Roswell Boy, the painting Nathaniel is the product of the artist reacting to events that took place in familiar locations. Nathaniel was the perpetrator of a mass shooting that took place in Los Angeles, where Hagler used to live.
The Time Given
Self Portrait as Someone Unseen
The Smell of Fire in Winter
The Time Given V.I.
10 x 8 in
10 x 8 in
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Joshua Hagler is known for his psychologically charged paintings, which explore philosophical questions of cultural and religious identities.
This Is The Picture
Artist monograph published by Unit London and Hurtwood Press, 2021
Texts by David Anfam, Colette LaBouff, Catherine McCormack and selections from poetry by Allison Benis White
116 pages, 23.5 x 30cm