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Todd Gray turns colonialism and the art of photography on its head by Carolina A. Miranda for the Los Angeles Times

It was sociologist Stuart Hall who led Los Angeles artist Todd Gray to rethink the nature of his work. The prolific Jamaican-British theorist, who died in 2014, was noted for his profound examinations of power and the ways in which culture can be deployed to maintain a certain order. In resistance, he noted, there is also power.

Those ideas inspired Gray to exert his own resistance by rattling the conventions of photography. “I started using round frames, I went from 2-D to 3-D, I stopped using glazing,” he explains. “It led me to challenge the assumption of what it meant to properly exhibit a photo.”

The artist began to layer his images in elaborate three-dimensional collages, with images showcased in unorthodox picture frames. (How often do you see a snapshot presented in an ornate, gilded frame?) In their content, Gray’s pieces also wrestle with power. As the artist told Aperture magazine last year, “Photography is a way for power to have a direct line into subjects, into us, into the masses; to formulate narratives that we don’t question, because we think these narratives are something called reality.”