Liz Deschenes is known for lushly beautiful and meditative work in photography and sculpture that probes the relationship between the mechanics of seeing, image-making processes, and modes of display. She employs various photographic technologies to explore the symbolic power of color and creates sculptural installations that respond to a site’s unique features.

Green screens are commonly used as backdrops in television, film, and video game production to introduce special effects. They are typically invisible to viewers, but in Green Screen #4 Deschenes makes them both subject and object. A 15-foot-long monochrome photograph mounted on Duratrans, a material used for commercial photography displays, Green Screen #4 is a stand-in for the thing it depicts.

Screen technology was initially developed in the 1930s for film, using blue backdrops, but over time green became the dominant color. This shift was due in part to the increased visibility of African Americans in the cultural realm, as darker skin tones do not composite well on a blue screen. With this body of work, Deschenes offers a subtle commentary on the changing perceptions of race and its relation to the history of film and photographic technologies.

This acquisition introduces a new artist to the ICA/Boston collection—one with connections to Boston and to the ICA’s exhibition program—and also an innovative artwork that pushes photography into the realm of sculpture and installation, an interest also reflected in the collection works by Leslie Hewitt, Erin Shirreff, and Sara VanDerBeek. Green Screen #4 builds on the museum’s strength in photography and sculpture while also diversifying these holdings and offering visitors a novel engagement with these media.


Acquired through the generosity of Erica Gervais and Ted Pappendick