Vietnamese-American artist Christine Nguyen opens the recently renovated 10 Chancery Lane space with an exhibition of photographs created in the absence of the camera. By projecting transparent drawings onto photo paper and developing it with intervention of crystals and other natural materials, the artist is able to produce otherworldly visions of the undersea universe. At its best, Nguyen promises science fiction-inflected takes on the classic photogram work of artists like Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and recent efforts from others including Marieta Chirulescu: several of the smaller works here deliver on this promise in a major way, as with the pieces Saline Jellies and A Good Beginning in Suspension. In such images transparent organic forms like bubbles and traces of light provide the background for other marks that are very obviously more directly related to the tools of the artist, sometimes betraying the representational silhouettes of oceanic denizens like jellyfish and seaweed.
In other cases, however, these references to the sea become too dominant, appearing so visually persistent that they might be better placed in a natural history context. Star Moon and Sea Vents is one such problematic composition, dominating the space by virtue of its size and placement but interested more in a bland cosmology of the artist’s own invention rather than pure visual effect--or perhaps the viewer is simply so quickly addicted to the universe of the photogram that efforts like this hardly stand a chance.
-- Robin Peckham
(All images courtesy of 10 Chancery Lane and the artist.)