PHOTOCULTURE: Interview with Ken Gonzales-Day

By Paula Ely

By Paula ElyKen Gonzales-Day’s interdisciplinary and conceptually grounded projects consider the history of photography, the construction of race, and the limits of representational systems ranging from the lynching photograph to museum display. The Searching for California Hang Trees series offered a critical look at the legacies of landscape photography in the West while his most recent project considers the sculptural depiction of race. Using the sculpture and portrait bust collections of several major museums including: The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Field Museum, The Museum of Man in San Diego, L’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, The Bode Museum, and Park Sanssouci in Potsdam, Profiled is as an exploration of the influence of eighteenth century "scientific" thought on twenty-first century institutions ranging from the prison to the museum. His Photo Arts Council (PAC) Prize winning book, Profiled, was published in 2011 by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  Gonzales-Day received a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, an MFA from the University of California Irvine, and an MA from Hunter College in NYC. He is a Professor of Art at Scripps College in Claremont, CA. where he has taught since 1995. His work has been widely exhibited including: LACMA, Los Angeles; LAXART, Los Angeles; Tamayo Museum, Mexico City; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; The New Museum, NYC; Generali Foundation, Vienna, among others. In 2017, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in photography.

We spoke on November 20, 2017 at Ken's home in Silver Lake.