Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break and the Lunch Break Times
June 8, 2010
The Colby College Museum of Art is pleased to announce a special installation of the exhibition Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break that will include a group of works by other artists and artisans displayed in conjunction with works from Lockhart’s Lunch Break project. The opening of the exhibition will coincide with the release of the Lunch Break Times, a special-edition newspaper conceived of by Lockhart for the Maine communities involved in the making of Lunch Break.
Los Angeles-based artist Sharon Lockhart creates films and photographs that are at once rigorously formal and deeply humanistic, meticulously observing the details of everyday life while also exploring the limits and intersections between the two mediums. In 2008, Lockhart spent the year in Maine, a state she associates with her childhood and where much of her family lives. During this year, she visited factories, farms, and industrial sites. One of these sites was the Bath Iron Works, where for a period of several months she observed and engaged with workers, forging collaborative relationships throughout the shipyard. The films and photographs that Lockhart produced from this experience focus on these workers during their midday break.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is the film Lunch Break, which consists of a single, slow-moving tracking shot down a long and seemingly endless interior corridor. To create the film, Lockhart recorded a ten-minute walk-through—her first use of a mobile camera—then employed digital technology to stretch the film’s length to eighty minutes. The result is a meditative reflection, devoid of sentiment, on life in the factory during a midday break. By contrast, the second film, Exit, utilizes a static shot divided into five sections—one for each day of the workweek—and depicts workers as they depart the shipyard at the end of their shifts.
The first of the three series of photographs centers on workers’ lunch boxes, emphasizing the ways in which stickers, labels, contents, and minute details of wear and tear suggest the personalities of their owners. A second series consists of carefully composed images of workers lingering around lunch tables, at once recalling and revising historical traditions of group portraiture. The third series is devoted to the independent businesses that exist within the factory—makeshift booths where workers sell hot dogs, coffee, and other items to their colleagues. These photographs express the humor and camaraderie of the workplace, as well as the values of trust, self-sufficiency, and independence, so central to the working life of the shipyard.
For the presentation of the exhibition at the Colby Museum, Lockhart, in collaboration with the architects Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena, has selected works by other artists and artisans that will be displayed in conjunction with works from the Lunch Break project. Additions to the exhibition are drawn from the Colby Museum’s collection, other Maine museums, and private lenders. Works from the Colby Museum’s collection include paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and folk art depicting the Maine landscape, the factory town, maritime themes, and people at work and at leisure. The historical and contemporary objects by Maine artisans consist of tools, containers, such as spruce gum boxes and earthenware, signs, and decorative objects. The dialogues that emerge from this evocative constellation of works offer viewers the opportunity to question conventional conceptions of art, craft, and work and their relationships to each other and to everyday life.
Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break is organized by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Presentation of the exhibition at Colby College is co-organized by the Colby College Museum of Art and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
The adaptation of the exhibition for the Colby Museum is overseen by Elizabeth Finch, Lunder Curator of American Art.
Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break will travel to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2011.
On July 10 from 2 to 4 p.m., the Museum will celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Included in the festivities will be a screening at 2:30 p.m. of Sharon Lockhart’s film Maine (2008, 30 min.), sponsored by the Maine International Film Festival (MIFF), followed by a discussion between Lockhart and some of the people featured in this new work.
Lunch Break Times
In connection with the exhibition, Sharon Lockhart has created a newspaper, the Lunch Break Times, with contributions by workers who participated in the Lunch Break project and articles from a variety of contributors including Lockhart, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Julie Ault, Sabine Eckmann, Katy Siegel, and Lane Relyea, among others. Lockhart will personally distribute copies of the newspaper, co-edited with John Alan Farmer and Jane Neidhardt and designed by Conny Purtill, to communities throughout Maine. The Lunch Break Times will also be available for free at the Colby Museum.
A fully illustrated color catalogue, distributed by the University of Chicago Press, accompanies the exhibition. The catalogue includes essays by Sabine Eckmann, Mark Godfrey, and Matthias Michalka, as well as an interview by filmmaker James Benning, in which Sharon Lockhart discusses her creative process, and an interview with architects Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena, conducted by András Pálffy.
An additional publication is planned, to be published by the Colby College Museum of Art, documenting Lockhart’s selections from and installation of the Museum’s collection in conjunction with her Lunch Break works and loans from Maine artisans and history museums.