States Of Being

Tooth For An Eye

Jan 06 – Feb 05, 2011
513 West 20th Street New York, NY 10011

Works (Tap to zoom)

Press Release


Tooth For An Eye

January 6 – February 5, 2011

Opening reception for the artist: Thursday, January 6, from 6 – 8 PM

Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce Tooth for an Eye, the second solo exhibition at the gallery of new work by Deborah Luster. Tooth for an Eye builds on Luster’s earlier body of work, One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, which was exhibited here in 2004.

Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish
is a photographic archive documenting contemporary and historical homicide sites in New Orleans, the homicide capital of the United States. The result is an exploration of the dizzyingly empty space at the core of violence. Luster approaches this invisible, excised population obliquely, with haunting, unpopulated photographs that seem to exist outside of time, simultaneously distant and chillingly close.

The images comprising Tooth for an Eye will be presented in two formats. Large framed photographs are printed in circular forms that echo what the lens of Luster’s 8 x 10 Deardorff field camera sees. These luminously printed works formally embody Luster’s well-developed technique. In addition to the wall-bound work, Luster intimately invites the viewer to handle and browse the archive of images and text, which are bound in large ledgers.

Tooth for an Eye
ultimately expands into a mapping or chorography of a much beloved and beleaguered city - the topographical, architectural, material and cultural phenomenon that is New Orleans. By approaching cityscapes through the disorienting context of homicide, the work disturbs the deep crust of stereotypical visual interpretations of New Orleans, a city that has been photographed repeatedly but still remains elusive. Luster’s archive documents the loss of the physical city as its unique materiality slowly crumbles, exposing the pervasive pulse of both hope and corruption that exists in the city’s still and patient spaces.

Deborah Luster has received an Anonymous Was a Woman Award, a Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Award (with C.D. Wright) from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, a John Gutmann Fellowship, and the Baum Award for Emerging American Photographers. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Galway, Ireland.

Tooth for an Eye
will be accompanied by an eponymous 64-page monograph, published by Twin Palms Press. The monograph will be a presentation of this body of work.

Upcoming exhibitions at the gallery include Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, The Architect’s Brother, opening February 10, remaining on view until Saturday, March 12.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. For additional information and photographic material please contact the gallery at