This week we welcome Joseph Cochran II, a visual artist currently living and working in New York City. Cochran’s work, predominantly photograph-based, utilizes extensive research and archivist methods that have also produced conceptual and documentary video, book art and experimental publishing practices.
Cochran first exhibited in a group photography exhibition in 2015 with Basement 6, a Shanghai-based collective that discovered him a year prior. While a member of the group, Cochran helped set up Shanghai Community Radio (SHCR) and started the self-publishing house Durendal, which produced eight independent publications under the sight-line of China’s then difficult publishing regulations. His recent exhibitions include ATARAXIA at 138313 (New York), and The Cowboys Made Me Cry, at Brooklyn-based Swivel Gallery’s second space in Saugerties, New York.
His practice has evolved over time, reflecting the life he has led in and out of the United States. From documenting the realities of people in New York City to exploring the nuances of megacities in China to capturing the isolation faced by people, particularly those of color, his practice has relied on a hypersensitivity to presence and an understanding of how humanity is impacted by the environments it exists within. Combining photography, text, video and book-based art, Cochran has worked tirelessly to craft an archive that simultaneously builds on the canon of photography and satiates his ethnographic, anthropological and philosophical interests.
Since his return to New York City in 2019, Cochran has focused on documenting the communities in the City, chiefly Harlem, where he was born and spent his childhood, as well as Brownsville and East New York, where he spent his adolescence. Communities in existential crisis, he is now documenting their present conditions whilst investigating their past.
In addition to his photographic output, Cochran works in video and installation. Video pieces Fusillade (2016) & There Will Be Blood (2020) examine the proliferation of audiovisual capital and maximization of state-run violence respectively, while installation works such as Untitled I (2021) analyze global economics, displacement, migration and loss and mourning.
Cochran is currently working with visual artist Svenja Wichmann on A Reference is Money is a Reference, an experimental film that examines the everyday effects of capitalism and sustainable, solidarity-based economic structures through the lens of New York City.
Cochran has shown domestically and internationally, most recently in “Magic Show”, a retrospective group exhibition of the New York-based Magic Gallery. His works are in the permanent collections of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Harlem) and the Langston Hughes Library (Queens)
See more of Cochran’s work on his website and Instagram.