Over the last two decades, American artist Zoe Leonard (b. 1961) has emerged as one of the most visually attuned photographers of her generation, using images as a means of documentation, invention, remembrance, and critique. Regardless of the sites and objects on which she trains her lens, Leonard works from an implicitly queer and feminist perspective that puts pressure on both hegemonic modes of seeing and our ways of narrating them. Such concerns have similarly animated the work of art historian Huey Copeland, whose writing explores the ways in which forms of cultural difference productively deform Western conceptualizations of the aesthetic. In February 2011, Copeland interviewed Leonard about her practice and its implications for feminist approaches to vision, history, and the archive. Their conversation took place at the College Art Association annual conference in New York as part of a daylong series of events sponsored by the Feminist Art Project and organized by art historians Julia Bryan-Wilson and Johanna Burton. Leonard and Copeland took two of her works as touchstones for their exchange: The Fae Richards Photo Archive (1993 – 96), originally conceived as part of Cheryl Dunye's film The Watermelon Woman (US, 1996), and You see I am here after all (2008), a gridded concatenation of vintage postcards depicting views of Niagara Falls.

Author notes

Zoe Leonard lives and works in New York. An artist who works primarily with photography and sculpture, she has exhibited extensively since the late 1980s, including solo exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre, London (2012); MuMOK, Vienna (2009); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2009); Reina Sofia, Madrid (2008); Dia:Beacon, Beacon, New York (2008); the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2007); Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2007); Philadelphia Museum of Art (1998); Kunsthalle Basel (1997); Secession, Vienna (1997); and the Renaissance Society, Chicago (1993). Major group exhibitions include Documenta IX (1992) and Documenta XII (2007), as well as the 1993 and 1997 Whitney Biennials. She is a founding member of the artist collective fierce pussy.