Filter Photo: The Enigmatic Object

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© Nicola Benford
Filter Photo: The Enigmatic Object

1821 West Hubbard Street
Suite 209
Chicago, IL 60622
March 7th, 2014 - March 28th, 2014
Opening: March 7th, 2014 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

West Loop/West Town
By Appointment Only
figurative, landscape, digital, video-art, photography, conceptual


A topiary of feathers stands upright on a white table cloth; these are exotic feathers, arranged or self-appointed to sit as a single entity—like an eccentric hat left behind at a wedding party, or a cake not yet cut open, or possibly even an animal that could, at any moment, unfold itself and crawl away. Vaguely familiar wallpaper flurries in the background, further confusing the scale of the objects in the frame.

As with Nicola Benford’s photograph (Burrow 1) the wide range and style of works included in The Enigmatic Object capture strange and uncanny moments latent in the material world. A house has a hole through its center. Spam goes to a reflection disco and the resulting photograph looks like a 70s photorealist painting. A man stands with his back to the camera between two concrete walls. His dime-store, sky-printed t-shirt matches the “real” sky, yet the pile of logs printed on his back point through his body toward the horizon line. Styrofoam hangs at an angle in a black sea, as if orbiting in space. The lines of a possible tennis court appear from the borders of the frame and converge in a perfect angle before extending out to create new shapes that can be only be imagined. Again and again something familiar is pinched by an abstract photographic gaze, undermining any sense of pre-determined banality.

The world examined, captured, dissected through these images is not entirely human, and yet motif play out. A yellow circle appears at variant angles throughout several distinct photographs like an actor in different costumes, just as the forest—or the idea of a forest—shows up surrounding an almost invisible box (Radical Absence), before transforming into patterned wallpaper behind a queuing group of figures (Untitled, Abu Dhabi, 2012), and appearing again as an image that leans against a pack of mentholated cigarettes (Cool Sensation).

This collection of works supplies translations of translations of translations. These are not definitive statements but circular assertions. Whether capturing exterior or interior spaces, landscapes or portraits, the artists highlighted here are not bonded to photographic traditions of the past. With their own voices, they successfully convey unique perspectives of our contemporary world as it might exist in the future, or even how it might exist right now.

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