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Right to Represent

Date Mar 13, 2019
Type Panel

How do subjects present themselves to the camera? What are the power dynamics between the photographer, subject, and audience? Who historically has been deemed worthy of photographic commemoration and who is missing?

Join us for a lecture and conversation—moderated by ICP assistant curator Claartje van Dijk with scholar and artist Ace Lehner and photographer Pixy Liao—on challenging notions of power and visibility in portrait photography. The evening will begin with Lehner presenting their own work at the intersection of trans and non-binary photographic representation before a discussion on methods of interrogating power dynamics of lens-based portraiture with Liao and van Dijk.


Claartje van Dijk is assistant curator, collections at the International Center of Photography, where she conducts research on the over 150,000 historical and contemporary photos and objects in ICP’s Collection. She also manages, edits, and contributes to Fans in a Flashbulb, the ICP Collections blog. Van Dijk co-curated the exhibition Winning the White House: From Press Prints to Selfies (2016) and was a curator for Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change (2017). In 2018, she worked with Elliott Erwitt on his exhibition Elliott Erwitt: Pittsburgh 1950.

Ace Lehner is an interdisciplinary scholar and artist specializing in critical engagement with identity and representation; history, theory, and criticism of contemporary art; visual studies; photography theory; and queer and trans theory. Lehner’s artistic practice often embraces collaboration and primarily uses photography and video to mine the complex relation between representations and the constitution of identities.

Currently, Lehner is a Presidents’ Dissertation Year Fellow at the University of California and completing their dissertation Trans Representations: Contemporary Art Photography and Non-Binary Visual Theory. Recently Lehner has been an artist-in-residence at the Wassaic Project in Wassaic, NY. In February 2019, Lehner will chair a panel on Trans Representations at the College Art Association conference in New York City. Lehner was a recipient of the Murphy and Cadogen Fellowship in the Fine Arts and the Sheffield Art League Scholarship. Lehner has taught and given lectures at various institutions, including College Art Association, California College of the Arts, Oakland; Southern Exposure, San Francisco; University of California, Santa Cruz; Rochester Institute of Technology; and Stony Brook Manhattan, among others. Lehner is a member of the artist collaborative project ERNEST and often makes work with artist Libby Paloma.

Lehner is currently a PhD candidate in visual studies in the History of Art and Visual Culture department at University of California, Santa Cruz, and is based in New York. Lehner holds an MA/MFA in visual and critical studies/fine art from California College of the Arts and a BFA in studio art with a minor in social anthropology with distinction from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Lehner also studied fine art and art history at Middlesex University in London, England.

Lehner has worked as a commercial photographer for over a decade.

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Pixy Liao is an artist who currently resides in Brooklyn. She is a recipient of a NYFA fellowship in photography, Santo Foundation Individual Artist Awards, Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival Madame Figaro Women Photographers Award, En Foco's New Works Fellowship and LensCulture Exposure Awards, etc. She has completed artist residencies at the University of Arts London; Pioneer Works; Light Work; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Center for Photography at Woodstock; and Camera Club of New York. Liao’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, including He Xiangning Art Museum (China), Museum of Sex (NY), Asia Society (Houston), Flower Gallery (NY), Leo Xu Projects (China), Metro Pictures (NY), First Draft Gallery (Sydney) etc. Liao holds an MFA in photography from the University of Memphis.