Installation view of Carolyn Lazard’s work <em>Critical Load</em> on display as part of NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 – 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fennessy

Carolyn Lazard

Courtesy of the artist

Carolyn Lazard
United States born 1987

Level 3
NGV International
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As part of their ongoing investigation into how artistic production is related to ability, Carolyn Lazard’s sculpture Privatization uses the readymade to address types of structural violence that are often encountered at the intersection of illness and disability with class, gender, sexuality and race. Drawing on ideas of monotony, inactivity and repetition Privatization also alludes to the boredom experienced by those who undergo long stretches of illness or debility. These HEPA air purifiers – mundane objects often found in medical recovery spaces – are offered here as a gesture of care towards visitors, purging the gallery of potentially harmful toxins, allergens and virus particles.

The hourglass is filled with toxic stone dust from the McCoy Rock Quarry in Pennsylvania, near where the artist lives. Like many industrial sites across the world, the quarry is situated near communities of lower socio-economic makeup that are primarily home to immigrant and Black residents. The dust from the quarry drifts into homes and workplaces, causing long-term and life-threatening respiratory problems, at times requiring medical treatment and the purchase of air purifiers. Lazard’s sculptures point to an industrialised system of environmental racism, bolstered by the commodification of health and wellbeing that is a hallmark of our era.

Carolyn Lazard’s work considers ‘labor that facilitates our staying alive and that labor is care and care work’ across disciplines; they consider the social and political intersections with race, gender and disability. Lazard often draws on the minimalist language of conceptual art and avant-garde cinema. Based between New York and Philadelphia, their work has been shown in the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna; and the Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart, Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include Long Take, 2022, a co-commission between the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Nottingham Contemporary; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. Their work was included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial and the 2022 Venice Biennale. Lazard is a 2020 Disability Futures Fellow and a 2021 United States Artists Fellow.