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Aperture Conversations

Garth Greenwell and Mark McKnight

Monday, January 13

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Aperture Gallery and Bookstore 547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor New York, NY


Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, is pleased to present a conversation between acclaimed writer Garth Greenwell and photographer Mark McKnight, winner of the 2019 Aperture Portfolio Prize.

Join us in celebrating Greenwell’s newest book, Cleanness, and McKnight’s exhibition at Aperture Gallery, on view through January 18, 2020—coinciding with his first solo show at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York, January 10–February 16, 2020. Greenwell and McKnight will speak together about the mystery and beauty of rendering queer life in words and photographs.


Mark McKnight (born in Los Angeles, 1984) is a modern-day modernist. His black-and-white photographs of skin and sand, brick and tar, with their rich tones and sparkling light, are redolent of twentieth-century masterworks, those pictures by men like Edward Weston, who cast the world in silver-gelatin. But for McKnight, who was born in Los Angeles to a New Mexican, Hispana-identified mother, something was missing from Weston’s vision. Something that would ignite a flame of recognition in a young queer man with ideas about male beauty more expansive than the Eurocentric standard. Something that would make “straight” photography a little less straight. “McKnight challenges us to find grace in what might at first seem a graceless image, to linger on the elegance of the curves of a man’s flesh,” Greenwell writes in Aperture magazine, “to imagine, between body and shadow, a surreal pas de deux.” McKnight’s first book, Heaven is a Prison, will be published by Loose Joints in fall 2020.

Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You (2016), which won the 2017 British Book Award for Debut Book of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, it was named a Best Book of 2016 by over fifty publications in nine countries, and is being translated into a dozen languages. Greenwell’s newest book, Cleanness—about an American teacher in Sofia, Bulgaria, who navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love—is published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His fiction has appeared in the New Yorker,  Paris ReviewA Public Space, and VICE, and he has written criticism for the New Yorker, London Review of Books, and New York Times Book Review, among other publications. Greenwell wrote about McKnight’s work for Aperture magazine, issue 236 (Fall 2019). He lives in Iowa City.

The purpose of the Aperture Portfolio Prize is to highlight artists whose work deserves greater recognition and identify trends in contemporary photography. Click here for more information about the 2020 Aperture Portfolio Prize.

Aperture Foundation’s public programs are supported, in part, by generous donations from our Board of Trustees, our members and other individuals, and from corporate foundations and private foundations including: Grace Jones Richardson Trust, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Image: Mark McKnight, if water forgets how to play mirror, 2018, from the series Decreation

Garth Greenwell and Mark McKnight