This photograph is part of the artist's series, Heaven is a Prison. Shot with a large-format camera, McKnight depicts a sexual encounter in the high desert landscape of his youth. The protagonists in these works are both anonymous and archetypal, yet outside the European beauty standards so commonly idealized even in queer communities.
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Mark McKnight’s black-and-white photographs expand the boundaries of landscapes and portraits by manipulating accepted ways of seeing. He repurposes traditional compositions typically reserved for idealized European figures to depict queer and Brown subjects who are often drenched in rich shadows. In McKnight's work, natural and urban landscapes serve as dynamic backdrops for capturing friends and intimates.
Mark McKnight was born in 1984.
His work has been exhibited at: Aperture Foundation in New York City; Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson, Arizona; the California Museum of Photography in Riverside, California; the Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, California; Park View / Paul Soto Gallery, Shulamit Nazarian Gallery, Charlie James Gallery, Roberts & Tilton Gallery, M+B Gallery, Luisotti Gallery, and The Pit Gallery, all in Los Angeles, California; James Harris Gallery in Seattle, Washington; Koppe Astner in Glasgow, Scotland; and Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York City.
His works are in the public collections of Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. McKnight’s first monograph, Heaven is a Prison, was published by Loose Joints in September 2020 with support from the Light Work Photobook Award.
McKnight currently lives and works in Los Angeles.