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Paul Mpagi Sepuya presents the work of one of the most prominent, up-and-coming photographers working today. 

Sepuya primarily makes studio photographs of friends, artists, collaborators, and himself, inviting viewers to consider the construction of subjectivity. He challenges and deconstructs traditional portraiture by way of collage, layering, fragmentation, mirror imagery, and the perspective of a Black, queer gaze. In contrast to the slick artifice of contemporary portraiture, Sepuya suggests the human element of picture taking―fingerprints, smudges, dust on the surface of mirrors. He also allows glimpses into the studio setting―including tripods, backdrops, lenses, and the photographer himself―encouraging multivalent narrative reads of each image. For Sepuya, photography is a tactile and communal enterprise. Although the creation of artist books has been a long-standing part of his practice, Paul Mpagi Sepuya is the first publication of his work to be released widely, co-published with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis on the occasion of a major solo exhibition.


Paul Mpagi Sepuya is a Los Angeles–based artist. His work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Museum, and Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among other institutions. Notable recent exhibitions include a solo survey exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, a solo exhibition at Amsterdam’s Foam museum in 2018, the 2019 Whitney Biennial, and Being: New Photography 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art.

Wassan Al-Khudhairi is chief curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, where she has organized Paul Mpagi SepuyaLawrence Abu Hamdan: Earwitness Theatre, and Guan Xiao: Fiction Archive Project, among other exhibitions. Previously, Al-Khudhairi was the Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Malik Gaines is a writer, performer, and associate professor and director of undergraduate studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is the author of Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left: A History of the Impossible (2017). Since 2000, Gaines has performed and exhibited extensively with the group My Barbarian, whose collective has presented work at the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Biennial, and Performa Biennial.

Lucy Gallun is associate curator in the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York. She has curated and cocurated many exhibitions at MoMA, including Being: New Photography 2018, which included multiple works by Sepuya. Gallun is also coeditor of Photography at MoMA, a three-volume history of photography at the museum.

Ariel Goldberg is a writer and artist, whose publications include The Estrangement Principle (2016) and The Photographer (2015). From 2014 to 2017, they organized readings at The Poetry Project. Goldberg’s art criticism has appeared in e-fluxArtforumAfterimage, and Art in America.


  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture (April 7, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597114804
  • ISBN-13: 9781597114806
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
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