Shirley Wegner is mostly known for her large-scale photographs of landscapes that seem sustained between real and fiction and question the relationship between documentary photography and storytelling. Using no visual reference other than her own memory, Wegner reconstructs sets of landscapes of her native country of Israel, that are embedded in the collective experience as well as in her own. Each set carries its own investigation, meticulously crafted over weeks and months integrating painting, drawing, sculpture and simple craft, using mundane and everyday materials. Once photographed, the many layers the set is made of are compressed into a new form of a memory-image: one that is imperfect, often purposely ill-made, loose-around-the-edges as it oscillates between real and artifice. Working in a number of mediums simultaneously, she interweaves materials into images that make up a form of a lexicon of memory. Her practice addresses contradictory questions of nostalgia, ideology, and the power-relationships inherent in a landscape once it has shifted from a "nowhere" to a "territory." Through these she also questions how these images that are excavated from her memory function today, against the backdrop of contemporary urban decay, ruins, the aftermath of war and natural disasters.
Shirley Wegner was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and has been living and working in New York from 1997. Since 2016 she is based in Israel. In 1994 she graduated from Hamidrasha School of Art, Israel and in 2002 earned her MFA from Yale University School of Art in painting/printmaking. Her work has been exhibited internationally in the US, Europe and Israel. Her recent and previous one-person exhibitions include Rosenfeld Gallery, Tel Aviv (“Maa’seh Merkabah”-The Act Of Assembly, January 2017), Farideh Cadot Gallery, Paris (New Works, 2013, and Painting, 2015), Slag Gallery, NY (Two Times Gray, 2012), Dana Gallery, Yad-Mordechai, Israel (Paper-Pile-Scissors, 2012), Dan Contemporary, (Landscape Anomalies, 2012), The Islip Museum of Art, New York (Construction Site at The Carriage House, 2009), Goch Museum, Goch, Germany (On Landscape, Gray and Other Geographies, 2007, with Cat.) among others. Her work has been featured in many group shows, among them are The Islip Museum of Art, Islip, NY (Remembering Things Past, 2015), BAC gallery, Montreal, Canada (Vestiges, 2015), Grand Palais, Paris, Paris-Photo Art Fair (with Farideh Cadot Gallery, 2014), The Haifa Museum of Art, Israel (Out Of Sight, 2015), The Long Island Museum of Art, New York (Here and Now, 2014), Dieu Donne’ Gallery, New York (Artists In Residence Workspace Program Grant, 2009), The Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, Israel, (Affirmative Action, 2003, and The Land of Shadow, 2002). Wegner is a recipient of Artis Professional Development Workshop Grant (with Creative Capital, 2012), and Mifal Ha’pais exhibition grant for her exhibition at Dana Gallery, Israel in 2012. Other grants and residencies include: The Islip Museum's In Process residency and award for Winter Studio Program (2009), Dieu Donne’ Workspace Program grant, New York, NY (2008), and a residency award and exhbition from The Josef and Hilde Wilberz foundation (with Abteiberg Museum), Mönchengladbach, Germany (2006-7).
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (The Jacques and Eugenie O'Hana Collection), Goch Museum, Goch Germany, The Collection of the City of Mönchengladbach (Atelier Stipendium), Germany; Hiltrud Neumann Collection, Germany, Baad Reservoir Gallery, Bezalel Academy of Art, Israel; The Susman Family Art Foundation; and private collections in Europe, US and Israel.
Shirley Wegner teaches photography at Shenkar College, Multidisciplinary Art Department. Before that served as adjunct professor in Graduate and Undergraduate programs at Long Island University Post Campus, Brookville, NY.
© All images courtesy of Shirley Wegner 2017