Ace Lehner


Ace Lehner is an artist and visual culture scholar whose work explores the human condition and often investigates the presentation of queer and otherwise representationally marginalized subjects in contemporary visual art and culture. Lehner’s artistic practice often takes the form of photography and video and frequently uses collaboration as a form of artistic production. Lehner has exhibited, given talks and taught throughout North America and has work held in several private collections. Lehner’s research as well as artistic practice revolve broadly around the presentation of contemporary queer, and otherwise representationally marginalized subjects. Lehner is particularly interested in Photography, Video and collaborative practices, Queer Aesthetics, Critical Race and Feminist Discourses and Performance Theory.

Lehner holds an MA in Visual & Critical Studies and an MFA in Fine Art from California College of the Arts in San Francisco and a BFA in Studio Art with a minor in Social Anthropology from Concordia University in Montreal Canada. Currently Lehner is a PhD Student in Visual Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Lehner is a practicing artist working across media from Photography and Video to collaborative practices.

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Lehner is part of the artist collaborative project ERNEST.

Lehner’s video bio can be seen at:




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About Ace Lehner’s Thesis Project

Ace Lehner

Unfixing the Photograph: Portraiture and Its Discontents in Contemporary Photography

Portrait photography has the potential to intervene in how we look at others. It cannot be looked at as truth or as documentation, but can only represent an isolated and suspended moment in the life of the person pictured. When portrait photography attempts to offer insight into an individual subject, it betrays the promise of its own ontology. Portrait photography has the potential to question the naturalized ideologies inherent in looking.In Unfixing the Photograph I examine how portraits by Catherine Opie and Nikki S. Lee, as well as my own works intervene in the way we look at and visually read people. This project considers how these works resist the reinscription of identities into hegemonic representations of race, class, gender, and other oppressive systems. It also discusses strategies for making images that actively resist dominant paradigms of looking by engaging techniques of coding, cropping, complicating, and withholding visual information.

In order to look critically at portrait photography in this way, I have developed and will discuss three interchangeable and mutually informing lenses: picturing without showing (strategies of visibility and resistance); the distance of proximity (between the photographer and the subject); and self-presentation (hybrid-autoethnography and performing for the lens).

Watch Symposium Presentation



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