Lens Mix Conversation Series

FotoFocus is proud to present Lens Mix, a monthly virtual conversation series connecting speakers from different fields to comment on film, photography, and lens-based art. Created in celebration of FotoFocus’s tenth anniversary, the free series moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore invites speakers to explore each others’ artistic practice and projects through intimate discussions. Listen to previous Lens Mix conversations.

FotoFocus Lecture


Join Academy Award-winning director, producer, and writer Roger Ross Williams and Academy Award-nominated producer Lisa Cortés for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by Kevin Moore. As audiences turn to documentary filmmaking for truthful and complex narratives told outside the scope of mainstream media, this conversation between Roger Ross Williams and Lisa Cortés, who collaborated most recently on The Apollo (2019), asks the question: what stories urgently need to be told in today’s polarized and racialized political climate?

Roger Ross Williams was the first Black director to win an Academy Award, with his short documentary film Music by Prudence (2010). He has directed many critically acclaimed films, including the Academy Award-nominated Life, Animated (2016), which won the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award, and his recent HBO documentary about the iconic Harlem theater, The Apollo, which was the opening night film of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. His production company, One Story Up, is currently in production on a feature-length adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World and Me for HBO, an untitled documentary about civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, and a short film series with Topic and First Look Media. Williams is currently in pre-production on his first narrative feature film for Amazon studios, Cassandro, starring Gael García Bernal.

Lisa Cortés is renowned for creating challenging, visionary stories and has been distinguished by her commitment to empowering inclusive voices. She was the executive producer of Precious (2009) and recently worked with Williams as producer on The Apollo (2019). Her directorial debut, The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion (2019), traces the impact of street fashion and African American creativity on global cultural trends and was recently released on Netflix. All In: The Fight For Democracy, which she co-directed with Liz Garbus and produced with Stacey Abrams, Dan Cogan and Garbus will be released by Amazon Studios in fall 2020.

Join internationally renowned photographer Mitch Epstein and writer and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore. The year 2020 will live in infamy as a time of particularly acute and complex crises, with acrimonious politics layered upon social unrest and environmental affliction. Epstein and Williams, both Guggenheim Fellows, will discuss their explorations in photography, writing, and advocacy, and examine the myriad transgressions against American lands and the peoples struggling to survive there.

Mitch Epstein is a pioneer of 1970s color photography who has captured America’s landscape and psyche for fifty years. In his latest photographic series, Property Rights, he questions who owns the land, by whose authority, and with what rights. He began the series in 2017 at Standing Rock, where thousands protested the Dakota Access Pipeline on Sioux land, and he has continued his exploration into America’s abuses of power this year with photographs of Southern Confederate monuments and Black Lives Matter protests.

Terry Tempest Williams is a writer who speaks out on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she demonstrates through her work how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. She is the author of Erosion: Essays of Undoing (2020) and Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (1991) and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change.

Join acclaimed artist, photographer, and filmmaker Laurie Simmons and The New Yorker writer Naomi Fry for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore. As pop culture evolves beyond television, film, and advertising into TikTok, online video gaming, and other digital platforms, social structures and gender identity are dramatically changing. Laurie Simmons and Naomi Fry will share their thoughts on—and enthusiasm for—life on the new media frontier and how it relates to their work.

Laurie Simmons is an internationally recognized artist. Since the 1970s, Simmons has staged scenes for her camera with dolls, ventriloquist dummies, mannequins and people, to create images with intensely psychological subtexts. The nonlinear narratives she creates echo memories and dreams. By the early 1980s, Simmons was at the forefront of a new generation of artists, predominantly women, whose use of photography began a new dialogue in contemporary art. Her work is part of the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. In 2006, she produced and directed her first film The Music of Regret, starring Meryl Streep, Adam Guettel and the Alvin Ailey II Dancers. The film premiered at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Her narrative feature film MY ART, which she wrote and starred in, premiered at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival and the Tribeca International Film Festival in 2017.

Naomi Fry is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where she writes about popular culture, books, and art.

Join filmmaker Nadia Hallgren and sports whisperer George Mumford for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore. In this era of dramatic social friction, with professional barriers both still in place and regularly toppling, the paths to achieving personal greatness are more complex than ever. Nadia Hallgren and George Mumford will discuss the extraordinary people they have worked with—like Michelle Obama and Kobe Bryant—and the pursuit of excellence in their own careers.

Nadia Hallgren is an award-winning filmmaker from the Bronx, New York. She directed the Emmy-nominated documentary, BECOMING and Academy Award-shortlisted short documentary, After Maria. She is the recipient of the special jury prize at SXSW for She’s the Ticket and a Webby for Public Service and Activism for her film Gavin Grimm vs.

Nadia is a leading documentary cinematographer, with credits including Sundance award-winner Motherland and Academy Award-nominated Trouble the Water. Nadia is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and an alum of the International Center of Photography. Read more about Nadia on The Lens.

George Mumford is an inspirational and globally recognized public speaker, teacher, and coach. He’s taught mindfulness to people in every walk of life, from locker room to boardroom, from Yale to jail, using concepts that are powerful, yet easy to understand and apply. George has worked with Phil Jackson and many of the teams he coached to become NBA champions. Michael Jordan credits him with transforming his on-court leadership of the Bulls, and his roster of champion clients has blossomed beyond basketball to include corporate executives, Olympians, and athletes in many different sports.

Join artist John Miller and art critic and historian Hal Foster for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore. As the futures of art, society, and politics seem to unfold in increasingly erratic ways, this conversation between John Miller and Hal Foster will seek to reveal pattern and meaning in both the ambitions of the artistic avant-garde and the more banal material realities of contemporary society.

John Miller is an artist, writer and musician based in New York and Berlin. In 2020, the Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin featured An Elixir of Immortality, an overview of his work. At the same time, Miller also organized a group exhibition titled Lost in America at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. In June 2021, the Kunstalle Bielefeld will exhibit his Middle of the Day photographs with his video and PowerPoint works. Miller has had retrospective exhibitions at La Magasin in Grenoble, the Kunstverein in Hamburg, the Kunsthalle Zurich, the ICA Miami, and the Museum in Bellpark, Kriens, Switzerland. His publications include Mike Kelley: Educational Complex (Afterall Books, 2015), The Ruin of Exchange: Selected Writings, and The Price Club: Selected Writings (1977-1998) (both Positions, JRP-Ringier and the Consortium). Miller is a Professor of Professional Practice in Barnard College’s Art History Department.

Hal Foster is the author of numerous books, including, mostly recently, What Comes After Farce? Art and Criticism at a Time of Debacle (Verso, 2020), and Brutal Aesthetics (Princeton University Press, 2020), his 2018 Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery in Washington. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he teaches at Princeton University, co-edits the journal October, and contributes regularly to the London Review of Books and Artforum.

Join artist Zora J Murff and MoMA curator and soon-to-be Aperture Foundation Director Sarah Meister for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore. In this “big-tent” moment of promising yet unstable democratic politics, American racial dynamics are being scrutinized by citizens of all colors and professions. This conversation between Zora J Murff and Sarah Meister will look at storytelling through photographs, both historical and contemporary, to expose, in the words of Murff, incidences of “fast and slow violence.”

Zora J Murff is an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Arkansas. He received his MFA from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and holds a BS in Psychology from Iowa State University. Merging his educational experiences, Murff uses his practice to highlight intersections between various social systems and art. He has published books with Aint-Bad Editions and Kris Graves Projects. His most recent monograph, At No Point In Between (Dais Books), was selected as the winner of the Independently Published category of the Lucie Foundation Photo Book Awards. Murff is also a Co-Curator of Strange Fire Collective, a group of interdisciplinary artists, writers, and curators working to construct and promote an archive of artwork created by diverse makers. Murff is represented by Webber Gallery, London.

Sarah Meister will become Executive Director of Aperture in May 2021. She has been a Curator in the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art since 2009, where her most recent exhibitions include Fotoclubismo: Brazilian Modernist Photography, 1946-1964 (2021) and Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures (2020). Other recent publications and projects have considered the work of Gordon Parks (2020), Luigi Ghirri (2020), and Frances Benjamin Johnston (2019). She is co-director of the August Sander Project, a five year research initiative that will conclude in September 2021.

Join curators Andrea Nelson and Lucy Gallun for an hour-long Zoom conversation moderated by FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore. Expanding the canon has been an ongoing necessity since the formation of the history of photography in the nineteenth century but that challenge has taken on new dimensions in recent years with concerted efforts to diversify photography’s artistic pantheon through both thoughtful historical revisionism and contemporary curation. Andrea Nelson and Lucy Gallun will talk about their current projects formulated in a climate of such larger social imperatives.

Andrea Nelson is Associate Curator in the Department of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. She received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Minnesota in 2007 and has published on modern and contemporary photography and the history of the photobook. At the National Gallery she has organized several exhibitions including The New Woman Behind the Camera (2021), Richard Mosse: Incoming (co-curator, 2019), The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs from the National Gallery of Art (co-curator, 2015), and A Subtle Beauty: Platinum Photographs from the Collection (2014). She also serves as co-chair of the museum’s Time-based Media Art Working Group.

Lucy Gallun is Associate Curator in the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Since joining MoMA in 2010, she has curated multiple exhibitions, including three iterations of the Museum’s New Photography exhibition series (Companion Pieces: New Photography 2020, Being: New Photography 2018, and Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015), two iterations of the the Elaine Dannheisser Projects exhibition series (Projects: Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill at MoMA and Projects 108: Gauri Gill at MoMA PS1), and multiple other collection installations and exhibitions including Artist’s Choice: Yto Barrada—A Raft; Unfinished Conversations: New Work from the Collection; Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency; Soldier, Spectre, Shaman: The Figure and the Second World War; and Art on Camera: Photographs by Shunk-Kender, 1960–1971, among others. Lucy was co-editor and contributing author of Photography at MoMA, a three-volume history of photography at the Museum, and has contributed to multiple publications within and outside MoMA. Her most recent book is Robert Frank: Trolley—New Orleans, part of the Museum’s One on One series. Prior to joining the Department of Photography at MoMA, Lucy was the Whitney Lauder Curatorial Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania, and she was a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program (ISP).