When it's over


Photographer Laura Letinsky admits, “I never know when to throw something away”—like a vase of roses far past bloom. In her Monday evening talk “Free: By, For, and About Home,” at the Hyde Park Art Center, Letinsky explained that this quirk stems from a larger question: “When are things over?”

The body of photographs Letinsky showed along with her talk examined when things are over and what gets left behind. The photos included slides from her recent series, Morning and Melancholia, a study of leftover food and dishes as still life (displayed at the Renaissance Society in 2004). Letinsky, professor and chair of visual arts, also showed slides of her most recent work, photographs of apartments and homes taken soon after their owners moved out. “When you take everything out of a space, what gets left behind raises the question of what home is,” she told the audience of about 25.

The listeners, who had braved a downpour to attend, raised a number of their own questions. More than once an audience member asked how much Letinsky set up her photographs and how much she left to chance. “I want there to be a tension between the possibility of it being a real scene or set up,” she answered. “I don’t know when the contrivance starts and where the contrivance stops.”

Letinsky’s lecture was given in conjunction with the center’s exhibit Home of the Free. As her contribution, Letinsky had left a pile of magazines and free promotions on a table. They looked artistically arranged, yet at the same time they could have been dropped there without thought. Perhaps that was her intention.

Jenny Fisher, ’07

Photo: Letinsky's slide show (top) and her contribution to the exhibit (bottom).

September 1, 2006