30 Under 35 2019

Sara Cwynar Investigates our Inability to Be Original

Elizabeth Karp-Evans

Photography by Aubrey Mayer

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Sara Cwynar in her Brooklyn studio, 2018.

Sara Cwynar investigates themes that lay the groundwork for capitalist societies—obsolescence, consumption, technology and labor—interrogating them all “through the lens of color.” A technically skilled photographer and designer, her images often include collage, appropriation and a kaleidoscopic take on the image, where pictures are rephotographed and assembled in abundant layering.

Tracy (Grid 1), 2017. Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production, New York, and Cooper Cole, Toronto.

There is urgency and depth in Cwynar’s imagery, especially in video form. Information is often re-layered quickly and repeatedly in her works. A video from her 2017 exhibition at New York’s Foxy Production compares Apple’s rose gold iPhone to other objects and images in which color was used as a selling point, including mid-century Melamine tableware, concluding that even something advertised as opulent can become kitsch over time. Cwynar has worked steadily since her “Rose Gold” exhibition and next year has two solo museum shows: one at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut and one at the Milwaukee Art Museum which is traveling from the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She is also working on her first public artwork, a permanent billboard in a new subway station in Toronto.

Tracy (Cezanne), 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Foxy Production, New York, and Cooper Cole, Toronto.

Ultimately, Cwynar’s practice is an investigation into image-making as it relates to how we navigate our daily lives. “It seems like the failure of speaking to convey any truth or to accomplish anything is at the forefront of our culture right now,” she says. A chilling observation, especially considering that society is also still struggling to accept the falsehood of the image, as streamed to us daily by companies like Apple.