Next Level:
Sara Cwynar S/S 23

Press release | Amsterdam, March 2023

Through photographs taken from encyclopedias, the internet and a myriad of catalogues, excerpts from literary essays by leading thinkers as well as witty captions she plucks straight from Instagram – Cwynar gives chapter and verse to the process of imaging that shapes how we perceive the world. A common thread in Cwynar's work is her ongoing research into the effects of consumerism and how it subconsciously shapes our beauty and lifestyle ideals and subsequently, our self-image. Much of her work specifically focuses on the female consumer: from the cultural phenomenon of the New Woman of the turn of the nineteenth century until now. The exhibition title, S/S 23, is the usual designation for the new fashion season – in this case 'Spring/Summer 2023'. It refers to the trends that come and go, that keep pushing us to buy new products and conform to new ideals.

New work will premiere in her solo exhibition, in which she examines not only the products, but also the buildings with which we shape our living environment. Her work is like an index to the Zeitgeist, charting which ideals we strive for and which are lost. In addition, the existing video work Red Film (2018) will be shown, in which the artist hangs upside down and shares her research findings, while interrupting and being interrupted by a male narrator. Red Film uses the perfect red lipstick to reveal and critique what and why we buy, what this says about society's expectations, how our desire is constantly fed, and what value we ascribe to all these products we surround ourselves with.

Like an anthropologist of our contemporary economy of endless choice, Sara Cwynar explores what the products, colours and images are with which we constantly shape our lives and identities and how they change over time. Through her work, she encourages the viewer to go beneath the surface of capitalism and modern visual culture to discover what is ‘real’. The outcome is a detailed examination of the mechanisms that guide and determine our perception, making her work as seductive as it is disturbing.

collage woman in classic dress with crown yellow bottom purple background

Doll Index 2, 1733-1950, 2022

© Sara Cwynar.

Pamela Anderson posed in a big tule dress in a studio setting.

Pamela as Pamela, 2023

© Sara Cwynar.

Close up of an eye with blue eyeshadow looking without emotion into the camera lense.

Still from Red Film, 2018

© Sara Cwynar.

A collage type of work forming a flower arrangement, but is made from collected pink looking objects from the house.

Contemporary Floral Arrangement - #144.551 (1967) #2 The Relationship is a Matter of Style, 2023

© Sara Cwynar.

Foam & Sara Cwynar

Next Level: Sara Cwynar marks a long-standing relationship between Foam and the artist, who first exhibited in Amsterdam at Foam 3h in 2013 with her solo Everything in the Studio (Destroyed). In 2015, she was also chosen as one of the Foam Talents and her work was part of the exhibition Under Construction – New Positions in American Photography presented by Foam in 2014, which travelled on to Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY in 2015.

About the artist

In the ten years since her first solo at Foam, her career has swiftly taken off: Cwynar has participated in solo and group exhibitions at international museums including Remai Modern, Saskatoon (2021); The Guggenheim Museum, New York (2021); LACMA, Los Angeles (2020); the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (2019); Milwaukee Art Museum (2019); Oakville Galleries (2018); Minneapolis Institute of Art (2018); MMK Frankfurt (2017); Fondazione Prada (2016); and MoMA PS1 (2015). Her work is included in the collections of museums such as the Guggenheim Museum (New York), SFMoMA (San Francisco), Centre Pompidou (Paris), MoMA (New York) and Foam. In 2021, Aperture published her second book Glass Life and she has won several awards in recent years, including the Ammodo Tiger Short Award, twice for her video works Rose Gold (2017) and Red Film (2018) at IFFR. Sara Cwynar lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and is represented by Cooper Cole, Toronto and The Approach, London.

Next Level

Since the autumn of 2015, Foam has presented the exhibition series Next Level, with the support of Ammodo. The series is aimed at introducing a wider public to innovative art by relatively young artists who are making radical new use of the medium of photography. Previous editions featured the work of Anne de Vries, Melanie Bonajo, Anouk Kruithof, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács, Dominic Hawgood and Jonathas de Andrade. For Next Level, Foam invites artists to create new work that is premiered in the exhibition.

Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS  Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+ 31 (0)20 5516500

Note to editors

For more information and visual material please contact the Press Office of Foam via

Next Level: Sara Cwynar – S/S 23 is made possible by Ammodo, the Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds and Kleurgamma Fine Art Photolab. Foam thanks Stichting Foam Friends and Foam Fund for their generous support.  

Foam is supported by the VriendenLoterij, Foam Members, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the VandenEnde Foundation and the city of Amsterdam.

see more