Justine Kurland’s Seven Pleiades on view now

Justine Kurland, Seven Pleiades, 2004 , chromogenic print, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection

Surrounded by majestic landscapes, the groups of women in Kurland’s photographs engage in inscrutable activities that lend the images a mysterious tone. Much like a film director, Kurland stages her models by suggesting themes and asking the women to interpret the scenarios for the camera. The subject of this work is sourced in ancient Greek mythology. The Seven Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, were nymphs (young nature goddesses) who had romantic relationships with many of the major Greek deities and heroes. Nymphs were said to live near springs, rivers, and grottoes.

Kurland’s work  is included in P(art)ners: Gifts from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, an exhibition of 28 contemporary photographs and sculptures drawn from more than 300 works donated to the museum. P(art)ners demonstrates the Podestas’ shared collecting vision and pairs works exploring the female body  with photographs of architecture and interior spaces.

Kathryn A. Wat is curator of modern and contemporary art at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.