Fine Art Photography Daily

Jaclyn Wright: High Visibility (Blaze Orange)

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Untitled (BLM arrows, I), 2022 @Jaclyn Wright

Disruption is everywhere in Jaclyn Wright’s assemblages. Blaze orange, the eyeball searing color meant to snap us to attention, blasts through Wright’s multi-dimensional observations on the disturbed landscape of western Utah, where she resides. Her marked-up collages feel like a sport playbook—arrows and grids expose hidden strategies on land long-considered a playing field. The shape of the shrinking Salt Lake recurs, the environmental price of Western progress. Wright’s work plays in the wreckage of exploitative histories—from ranching to weapons testing to the bullet riddled targets left in the disregarded desert.

The fraught patriarchal and photographic relationships between the land and the body that Wright examined in Marked carry through in High Visibility. In a darkly humorous take, an odalisque in a blaze orange bikini casually flips targets in front of her head. With a nod to Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen, Wright presents desecrated objects to the camera, holding each up like an indictment. High Visibility, critically and with a touch of humor, urges us toward a reconsideration of our relationship with the land.

On view at Filter Space, Chicago until June 22, 2024 and is a grand prize winner at PH Museum, Bologna Italy.

The book, High Visibility Blaze Orange contains deeper documentation, maps and imagery, published by Gost Books.

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Blaze Pink, II, 2024, @Jaclyn Wright

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Untitled (grid), 2022, @Jaclyn Wright

High Visibility (Blaze Orange) 

High Visibility (Blaze Orange) uses debris collected from improvised gun ranges on public lands to create photographic installations that explore the impacts and material traces of late capitalism and settler colonialism on the landscape of the U.S. West. Through the use of original images, archival photographs and maps, and performances, the work shows the crucial role photography plays in codifying land use. The work explores how these codes manifest themselves in behaviors observed in Utah’s West Desert.

Much of the West Desert, the ancestral home of the Goshute people, is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It is classified by the U.S. Government as “public lands.” While the term “public” implies land open to all use, significant acreage is privately leased for mining and cattle ranching. The West Desert is located on the western side of the Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake is rapidly drying up due to drought, population growth, and water diversion for agriculture. The leasing of public land, capitalist water use, and human-caused ecological change are linked to the drying of the Great Salt Lake, threatening millions of migratory birds and those who live in Salt Lake City.

Nearly one-third of the West Desert’s 7.7 million acres are used as biological and chemical weapons testing grounds. The remaining areas of the West Desert are open to various uses, including improvised gun ranges. I see this land use as rooted in settler colonial, patriarchal, and capitalist systems that perpetuate ideologies undermining egalitarianism and environmentalism’s goals.

The work incorporates the color of the most conspicuous type of debris found in the West Desert on these ranges—blaze orange clay pigeons. These aerial targets are painted a highly saturated and synthetic orange, “blaze orange,” to ensure they stand out against the sky on a clear day. The contrast produced between these complementary colors enables shooters to track the unnatural target more easily against the natural landscape. I am interested in the unequivocal struggle between the natural world and its codification by bureaucrats, the visible and invisible, and the inherent ironies of playing out fantasies of freedom and nativism on stolen land.

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Found Fire Extinguishers, 2022, @Jaclyn Wright

Jaclyn Wright is an American multi-disciplinary artist and educator. Her work incorporates archival images, in-camera collages using a large format view camera, performance, and photographic installations. Wright’s current work critically explores the culture of land use, legacies of settler colonialism, and late capitalism in the American West. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and published widely. Recent solo exhibitions include Filter Space (Chicago) Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (Salt Lake City), Sabine Street Studios (Houston), and SFO Museum (San Francisco); recent and upcoming group exhibitions include Light Work (Syracuse), Halsey McKay Gallery (East Hampton), Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (Netherlands), PhMuseum (Italy), SF Camerawork (San Francisco) OCT-LOFT (Shenzhen, China), the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (Salt Lake City), amongst others. Her monograph High Visibility (Blaze Orange), published by GOST Books, was released in September 2023. Her work has been included in collections at The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL. Wright is a 2024-25 Foam Talent and was awarded the 2024 Photography Grant Main Prize by PhMuseum. She was a 2023 Utah Visual Arts Fellow and was a finalist for the 2023 Aperture Portfolio Prize. She received her MFA in Studio Art from Indiana University and is an Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT.

Follow on Instagram: @jaclynrwright

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Archives, I, ,2022, @Jaclyn Wright

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Found Clay Pigeons, 2022, @Jaclyn Wright

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Studio Targets, I, 202, @Jaclyn Wright

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Collected Targets, 202, @Jaclyn Wright

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Untitled (blaze orange), 2022, @Jaclyn Wright

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Untitled (BLM arrows, I), 2021, @Jaclyn Wright

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Archives, II, 202, @Jaclyn Wright 2

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Archives, IV, 2022, @Jaclyn Wright

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Archives, V, 2023, @Jaclyn Wright

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Archives, III, 2022, @Jaclyn Wright

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Blaze Pink, I, 2023, @Jaclyn Wright

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