Rowan Renee: Bodies of Wood
May 20 - May 23, 2017
  • Rowan Renee, The room through eyes that see askew, 2016 © Rowan Renee
  • Rowan Renee, The brightness where I am bound, 2016 © Rowan Renee
  • Rowan Renee, The ritual of scrubbing it all out, 2016 © Rowan Renee
  • Rowan Renee, Bodies of Wood, 2016 © Rowan Renee

Cocktail Reception and Panel Discussion: Tuesday, May 23, 6:00 p.m.

Rowan Renee is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work deals with gender, transgression, and the potential for violence under patriarchy. Renee has received awards from The Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation, The Rasmuson Foundation at the Anchorage Museum of Art, and the Jain Family Institute. Previous solo exhibitions include Z at Pioneer Works (2015)–a series of nude ambrotypes that complicate gender ambiguities and revise unrecorded queer histories–and Bodies of Wood (2016) at Peninsula Art Space. They have been profiled on NPR, in The New York Times, VICE, Guernica, Hyperallergic, among many other publications.

In Bodies of Wood, artist Rowan Renee presents a series of self-portraits exploring the long-term physical and psychological effects of incest by using photography to reclaim their own agency within a legacy of violence. These photographs are a series of solitary performances for the camera, which explore their relationship to their father, a convicted pedophile, five years after his death in prison. Rowan resists a literal re-staging of events, instead using the camera to approach a tangled web of defiance, shame, rage and desire. The result is a raw and earnest body of work asserting that to speak out is a political act that resonates beyond the individual, and is essential for both personal and cultural healing.

Part of a weekend-long collaboration between Aperture, the Ackerman Institute for the Family, and The Voices and Faces Project, presenting an intersectional approach to art-making and storytelling as vehicles to address gender-based violence and trauma, and to create social change. Events include:

The Voices and Faces Project’s “Stories We Tell” Testimonial Writing Workshop
Saturday, May 20, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 21, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
A two-day testimonial writing workshop for survivors of gender-based violence and other human rights violations. Participants read and discuss world- changing testimonial writing across social justice movements, while taking part in a series of innovative writing exercises in this purposeful and powerful workshop led by The Voices and Faces Project.

For more information, see here.

Bodies of Wood Exhibition Reception & Panel Discussion
Tuesday, May 23, Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
6:00–7:00 p.m. – Cocktail Reception for Rowan Renee
7:00 p.m. – Panel Discussion with Lois Braverman, Rowan Renee, and Mila Zuo

Join Aperture for a panel conversation focused on questioning cultural narratives of gender-based violence and victimhood, the complexities of reclaiming pleasures that are intrinsically connected to pain, and the repositioning of incest and other forms of childhood sexual abuse as a structural problem that occurs within the family institution.

RSVP is required, please e-mail [email protected]


This program is made possible with the generous support of The Reba Judith Sandler Foundation.