The work of Dan Paz, 2021-2022 Artist-in-Residence: Critical Race Studies at Michigan State University, is now on display in a solo exhibition, titled hammer without a nail, which runs through Friday, April 1, at (SCENE) Metrospace in downtown East Lansing. A closing reception for the exhibit is scheduled for April 1 from 6-8 p.m.
“I’m extremely grateful for my time here at MSU, as Artist-in-Residence in Critical Race Studies,” Paz said. “Over this year, I have had the great opportunity to develop this work with faculty, staff, and students. I’ve received tremendous support from the [Department of Art, Art History, and Design] and the University broadly. I invite you to this exhibition and I look forward to engaging with the dialogues to come.”
“hammer without a nail”
In the exhibition, Paz wrestles with photographic processes writ large and with the organizing principles of carceral institutions across the United States. The parallel histories of photography as a medium and the development of the biopolitical prison industrial complex both tell stories about the desire to fix bodies in space and time (to create a non-blurry photograph; to produce a docile and reformed prisoner) and to standardize outcomes (to create multiple, identical photographic copies for mass circulation; to generate uniform industrial-standard goods using prison labor).
Every piece in this exhibition is engaged in a sustained conversation with photography and the prison industrial complex, resulting in a challenging and nuanced constellation of objects that dreams towards the full abolition of the global carceral complex.
In addition to cast ceramic and bronze works, Paz collaborated with artist Abraham Avnisan to produce a 360-degree Lidar-scanned image taken from the Ingham County Youth Detention Center located in Lansing. This cyclorama is accompanied by Youth Advocacy Map(s), which are produced through collaborative digital mapping workshops, including those held as part of courses at MSU during Paz’s time on campus.
Paz’s unfolding body of work — the latest which has been made methodically and obsessively over the course of their time as the Critical Race Artist-in-Residence at Michigan State University — labors to manipulate and transform our collective perceptions of, as well as haptic orientations to, the prison industrial complex in the United States. Their conceptual projects attend to the shifting and shifted conditions of mass incarceration, to consider how different modes of visually representing its ongoing violence might actually attune others to becoming better witnesses.
A Visual Artist and Educator
Paz is a visual artist and educator whose work brings a critical and aesthetic lens to the architecture of space, developing projects that build a genealogy of how power articulates itself through image production and access to information. Their research engages the conditions of youth and adult incarceration, image practices, and architecture through grassroots activism.
I’m extremely grateful for my time here at MSU, as Artist-in-Residence in Critical Race Studies. Over this year, I have had the great opportunity to develop this work with faculty, staff, and students. I’ve received tremendous support from the [Department of Art, Art History, and Design] and the University broadly.Dan Paz, 2021-2022 Artist-in-Residence: Critical Race Studies
With national and international exhibitions, Paz’s projects and collaborations have been featured in Hayward Gallery, London, United Kingdom; the 12th Havana Biennial at Fábrica de Arte Cubano, Havana, Cuba; NYC Media lab, New York City; Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago, Illinois; Lee Center for the Arts, Seattle, Washington; Jacob Lawrence Gallery in Seattle, Washington; Holding Contemporary, Portland, Oregon.
Paz has hosted Community-Mapping Workshops with Arizona State University, Vanderbilt University, University of Washington, University of Colorado at Boulder, the Vienna Master of Arts in Applied Human Rights program, as well as Michigan State University. In 2021, Paz guest-edited a printed volume of photographs from A New Nothing – Sleeper Studio. In addition to the solo exhibition at (SCENE) Metrospace, Paz also has solo exhibitions with ENTRE gallery in Vienna, Austria, and The Specialist in Seattle, Washington.
Offered by the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) and established in 2017 thanks to a $750,000 gift from the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU), the Critical Race Studies Residency gives artists the opportunity to produce substantial public projects that engage in critical approaches to diversity and inclusion through creative practice.