“Beautiful Pig,” an exhibition at Filter Space features work artist Ben Schonberger made in collaboration with a retired Detroit Police officer. Collectively, the images examine Sergeant Marty Gaynor’s personal archive through Schonberger’s perspective, Schonberger’s interactions with Gaynor, and the artist’s reaction to the conflicts the archive reveals.
The exhibition presents Gaynor’s archive along with Schonberger’s photographs and sculptural objects that highlight the investigative role-playing performed by the artist and subject.
Schonberger, who is based in Pittsburgh, PA, acquired the photographs from Gaynor while working in Detroit. Over the course of two years, Schonberger interviewed Gaynor on a weekly basis. Among his thousands of photographs were images Gaynor had taken in the line of duty. “By cataloging, arranging, and interpreting his work, I gave it the parameters of an archive,” states Schonberger. After arranging Gaynor’s images to create documents in the format of a grid, Schonberger presented each grid to Gaynor, “as a canvas for him to transcribe a narration of his images,” explains Schonberger. The grids were infiltrated and paired with images Schonberger created in the midst of his investigation and interaction with Gaynor. “After organizing the images,” states Schonberger, “I began to struggle with indexical notations the archive revealed when presented as unified work. I embarked on an image making process alongside Marty to see if I could understand the realities of identity, spirituality, and empathy.”
Ben Schonberger is an artist and art teacher. Utilizing photography, appropriated imagery, digital montage, and performance, his work examines the complexities of identity through social investigations.