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Elle Pérez: Wolf Chair in Photography Artist Talk

Wednesday, April 22, 2020, 7 - 8:30pm

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Photograph by Bryson Rand Six framed artworks installed at the Whitney Biennial 2019
Photograph by Bryson Rand

Cooper Union students, faculty, and staff should RSVP here. Members of the public must instead email artschool@cooper.edu to confirm their attendance as limited spots are available. The event will be held on Zoom, and a link will be sent to registered addresses on the morning of the event.

Elle Pérez was born in 1989 in Bronx, New York and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Since receiving their MFA from Yale School of Art in 2015, Pérez has worked primarily in photography, depicting the intimate moments, emotional exchanges, and visceral details of their subjects and landscapes.

Early on in their career, Pérez photographed aspiring entertainment wrestlers in the Bronx, fascinated by the performativity and choreography of the wrestling matches. Pérez continues to play with the notion of authenticity, utilizing a collaborative approach to portrait photography that blurs the lines between traditional documentary, still life, and landscape photography.

Working closely with their peers from the LGBTQIA+ community as their subjects, Pérez visualizes the complexities of gender identity: the scars left behind on a subject’s chest after surgery, intertwined limbs after a moment of intimacy, a worn and tattered breast binder. Imbued with desire and a profound sense of care for their subjects, the photographs depict the traces of queer experiences and reflect the ever changing nature of identity.

Pérez relates this undefinable and unboundaried quality of queerness to photography, calling the “photograph a perfect container because it is not actually, ever, definitive.”

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.