Critics’ Picks

Untitled, 2003.

Untitled, 2003.

New York

Amelie von Wulffen

Greene Naftali Gallery
508 West 26th Street Ground Floor
February 20–March 20, 2004

The collages in this young German’s New York solo debut call to mind a broad range of references including German Romantic landscape, early-twentieth-century avant-garde montage, and cinematic tropes of a more recent vintage (horror-movie establishing shots, solarized representations of domestic bliss). Forgoing the confinements of the notebook page, von Wulffen unrolls large, loosely composed collages of painting, drawing, double-exposed photographs of landscapes and lovers, and carefully cut-out pictures of upper-crusty furnishings. She blends interior and exterior, opening up her pictorial spaces with turbulent waves of murky watercolor and indicating walls with framed paintings that seem to hang in midair. This intelligent and sensuous reinterpretation of the collage is also a lived and thoughtful meditation on photography and its position in our experiences of nostalgia, history, desire, landscape and form. In Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes expresses his fear that the unique power of photography—its capacity to provoke an intense, destabilizing experience, a kind of madness, through its peculiar relation to time—is being tamed by late-modern culture. Since Camera Lucida’s publication almost twenty-five years ago, it seems we need more than ever to retain and harness that power, and von Wulffen shows us one way it can be done.