Off the Record at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, April 2 – September 27, 2021

“The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Off the Record, a group exhibition featuring prints, photographs, and paintings that challenge the authority of mainstream documentation and question its role in constructing history. The 13 artists include Sadie Barnette, Sarah Charlesworth, Sara Cwynar, Leslie Hewitt, Glenn Ligon, Carlos Motta, Lisa Oppenheim, Adrian Piper, Lorna Simpson, Sable E. Smith, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems, whose works have been assembled from the museum’s collection. The presentation also includes a painting on loan by Tomashi Jackson.

Historical, documentary, state, and other records became the collectively accepted communicators of ‘truth’ through their perceived objectivity and comprehensiveness. They presumably tell a story from a place of remove, with all relevant details included. Off the Record confronts this pretense, bringing together the work of contemporary artists who interrogate, revise, or otherwise query dominant narratives and the transmission of culture through official ‘records.’

Drawn from the context of journalist reportage, the phrase ‘off the record’ here refers to accounts that have been left out of mainstream narratives. The exhibition’s title can also be understood in its verb form: to undermine or ‘kill’ the record as a gesture of redress. Across various manipulations of ‘records,’ artists in this exhibition seek to call out the power dynamics obscured by official documentation, complicate the idea of objectivity and truth, and surface new narrative possibilities.” — Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Sarah Charlesworth, Herald Tribune: November 1977, 1977 (printed 2008). Twenty-six chromogenic prints, 23 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. (59.7 x 41.9 cm) each, edition 2/3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee 2008.50. © Sarah Charlesworth
Sara Cwynar, Encyclopedia Grid (Bananas), 2014. Chromogenic print, 40 x 32 in. (101.6 x 81.3 cm), A.P. 1/2, edition of 3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Council 2016.50. © Sara Cwynar
Hank Willis Thomas, Something To Believe In, 1984/2007. Chromogenic print, image: 30 1/8 x 21 1/2 in. (76.5 x 54.6 cm); frame: 36 9/16 x 27 15/16 x 2 in. (92.9 x 71 x 5.1 cm), edition 5/5. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee 2011.13. © Hank Willis Thomas
Leslie Hewitt, Riffs on Real Time (3 of 10), 2006–09. Chromogenic print, 30 x 24 inches (76.2 x 61 cm), edition 5/5. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee 2010.55. © Leslie Hewitt
Lorna Simpson, Flipside, 1991. Gelatin silver prints and engraved plastic plaque, diptych, 51 1/2 x 70 in. (130.8 x 177.8 cm) overall, edition 2/3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee 2007.32. © Lorna Simpson
Sadie Barnette, My Father’s FBI File; Government Employees Installation, 2017. Five archival pigment prints, 22 x 17 in. (55.9 x 43.2 cm), edition 3/5. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Collectors Council, with additional funds contributed by Peter Boyce II 2018.57. © Sadie Barnette. Photo: Courtesy Fort Gansevoort
Sable Elyse Smith, Coloring Book 18, 2018. Silkscreen ink and oil stick on paper, 60 3/16 x 49 15/16 in. (152.9 x 126.8 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Young Collectors Council, with additional funds contributed by Astrid Hill and Alexandra Economou 2018.82. © Sable Elyse Smith

Off the Record was organized by Ashley James, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art.

Images courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.