Complicity: Contemporary Photography and the Matter of Sculpture focuses on artists who use materials at hand—whether nails as in Vik Muniz’s case or printed images as in Daniel Gordon's—to question the relationship of photography to three-dimensionality and, in the process, challenge our certainties about visual perception. Despite often incorporating an element of trompe l’oeil, the resulting works are created without resorting to digital or darkroom manipulations. Relying instead on simple perceptual tricks, they playfully point up the camera’s complicity in creating realities and our willingness to believe.
Both Vik Muniz and Igor Eškinja arrived at photography through sculpture and their trajectory argues that dispensing with physicality allows for expanded interpretive and critical potential. Eškinja’s camera makes credible spatial images out of brown tape applied to the gallery walls and floor, while Muniz’s transforms iron nails into fat, cushiony pillows. The graphic element of these artists’ works is echoed in Cynthia Greig’s photographs which combine color photography, white-washed household objects, and drawing into what she calls “photographic documents of three-dimensional drawings.” It is, however, Ginny Cook’s monochrome depictions of extinct and endangered plant names that are the most reductively graphic. Painted in water on paper and then variously collaged or cut out and photographed, the plant names regain their full imaginative potential and simultaneously point up the tenuous relationship of words to images.
Often exposing the fickleness of the camera, Daniel Gordon and Chris Jones use printed images and sometimes photographs themselves as the basis of their work. Gordon’s subjects are dioramas he collages mostly from images found on the Internet. The tableaux create a satisfying spatial dissonance through the contrast between the low resolution of the found imagery and the sharpness of his finished prints. Chris Jones culls images from a variety of sources to create sculptures such as the life-size recreation of a Harley Davidson he is making for this exhibition. Despite bearing numerous traces of the artistic process, Jones’s objects project an almost eye-defying realism.
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