|Gagosian Hong Kong presents Sanctuary, a new exhibition with the latest photographs by Roe Ethridge.
Ethridge’s work embodies the heteroglossia of the photographic realm, where the languages of commercial photography, fine art, stock imagery, and social media constantly intertwine. And just as these different genres cohabit on magazine pages and computer screens, for Ethridge, an exhibition is an opportunity to bring together the divergent subjects and styles within his own practice—suggesting that a mixing of categories is not to be avoided but to be embraced, protected even.
In this exhibition, Ethridge moves between work and home, city and country, labor and leisure, switching codes as he goes. The images interrupt each other, like fragments of different stories coming together to form a single, ludic narrative. This bricolage often reveals unexpected relationships. In a self-portrait from 2017, Ethridge’s face, covered in sunblock, peers over his cellphone into a mirror. Then, his face appears again on the torso of model Maryel Sousa—as if her leotard has accidentally reflected the man behind the camera.
“I don’t have a script. I have an idea that I work around but don’t necessarily solve.” Roe Ethridge
Like Ethridge’s photographs, the significance of the word “sanctuary” shifts drastically depending on its context, be it immigration debates, religious sites, or ecological preserves. This last context is referenced more literally in photographs of animals, including a duck in a pond, a fluffy white cat with a ball of yarn, a swimming dolphin, and a turtle on a bright orange ground, with “sanctuary” written over the image in shaky letters along the bottom edge of the turtle’s shell.