Christiane Feser: Consider the Sphere at Von Lintel Gallery

Christiane Feser: Consider the Sphere at Von Lintel Gallery, Culver City. Photo Credit Shana Nys Dambrot.

Christiane Feser: Consider the Sphere

Von Lintel Gallery, Culver City

By Shana Nys Dambrot

Through June 10th


Sometimes it’s all too easy to forget that a photograph is more than an image; it is also (or at least it always was also) a physical thing — a fact which the optically turbo photo objects of Christiane Feser make it impossible to ignore. Her exhibition Consider the Sphere at Von Lintel Gallery presents a series of unique works in which mediums ellide at a sequential meta-level. She makes simple, organically geometric assemblages of ordinary elements (pins, paper clips, bits of clay); then photographs them in raking light to accentuate their contours; distresses, punctures, manipulates, and folds those photographic prints; and finally adds back some of the sculptural pieces from the original assemblages. The results are, in all the most essential ways, photographs. While sculptural, they are not sculptures. Though made of torn, re-appropriated paper and mixed media sources, they are not really collages, either. Though perhaps going to extreme lengths to do so, Feser’s fundamental artistic purpose is the bending, capturing, refinement, and encapsulation of the properties of light. To make a functional partnership of the human eye and the mechanical lens. And there’s nothing more like a photograph than that.

Graphically crisp, brooding, and a bit delirious at a distance, these works incite an absolutely jovial instinct to rush closer and figure out their secrets. This proximity and closer-paid attention is richly rewarded, as the eye slowly decodes the hyperreal effect as being, in fact, merely real. Each work enacts its own refined universe of object-image chimera, one motif per work, so that the unique properties of the orb, hat pin, wire cross, or etc. has the time and space to demonstrate how interesting it can be. It’s like magic in reverse, but the sheer wonderment of the formal finesse and the solving of each work’s unique riddle does eventually give way to an appreciation of the intellectual rigor of the hybrid art histories Feser engages. For in addition to photography, sculpture, and assemblage, the deft palpitations of her activated surfaces also relate to moments along the Futurism-Cubism-Op Art continuum in modern painting. They possess such a physical presence as is normally the province of abstract paintings, rather than photographs. Though she often works in rich color, the pieces at Von Lintel are all black and white, or rather, they dance along the gray-steel-black-white scale with variable richnesses of silvers and densities of inky black. They are warm, which underscores all of their predicate qualities of objecthood. After a time, the images regroup inside the realm of photographs. Until the light strikes one of them just so, and the game begins afresh. “You don’t take a photograph, you make it!” said Ansel Adams. Only Feser knows how right he really was.

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