Earth you know is round but seems flat
You can’t trust
You thought you had seen every variety of creature
When I met him, I knew I had
weaned myself from God, not
hunger for the absolute. O unquenched
mouth, tonguing what is and what must
Remain inapprehensible —
Saying You are not finite. You are not finite.
– Frank Bidart “Hunger for the Absolute”
Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery is pleased to announce Hunger for the Absolute, the gallery’s second exhibition by Los Angeles-based photographer Mark McKnight. The exhibition comprises new gelatin silver prints hung in both rooms of the gallery, and will run from February 26 through April 3.
McKnight’s black-and-white photographs radically expand the boundaries of Modernist photography which privileged a singular, objective gaze. McKnight’s landscape is deeply personal. It reflects his youth spent in Southern California, where fecund fields of wildflowers and vast skyscapes provide an otherworldly environment that is sexually, psychologically, and subjectively charged.
McKnight populates this high-desert setting with two friends from within his community who become players in a fantastical drama. These queer, Brown, fleshy protagonists are both stand-ins for the the artist and self-determined subjects in their own right. Through sexual encounter, they demonstrate their own authority and agency, inadvertently upending Modernism’s obsession with “the heroic” and the objective. These figures are terrestrially bound: by gravity and the landscape in which they find themselves, enmeshed in a copulative dance that suggests a striving for the transcendent.
Hunger for the Absolute is divided into two rooms; the main gallery presents a selection of works from McKnight’s recent debut monograph “Heaven is a Prison” (Loose Joints, 2020). These photographs are grouped and hung in poetic stanzas which demonstrate a relationship to time and imaginative space. The front gallery emphasizes the cinematic proclivities of the photographic medium, with a series of images shown on three walls that allow a sweeping view of a singular erotic exchange.
MARK McKNIGHT (b. 1984, USA) currently lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Aperture Foundation, New York City; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson; California Museum of Photography; Riverside Art Museum; Shulamit Nazarian Gallery, Charlie James Gallery, Roberts & Tilton Gallery, M+B Gallery, Luisotti Gallery, and The Pit Gallery, all in Los Angeles; James Harris Gallery, Seattle; Koppe Astner, Glasgow; and Park View / Paul Soto, Los Angeles, which is staging a concurrent exhibition of McKnight’s work. His photographs are in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and The Henry Art Gallery, Seattle. McKnight’s first monograph, Heaven is a Prison, was published by Loose Joints in September 2020, with support from the Light Work Photobook Award.