Critics’ Picks

Annick Ligtermoet, Familie (Family), 2009, digital C-print, 3 1/2 x 2 1/2".

Annick Ligtermoet, Familie (Family), 2009, digital C-print, 3 1/2 x 2 1/2".

Annick Ligtermoet

New York
August 13–September 13

Questions about authenticity undoubtedly come to mind when considering contemporary photography. In the case of Dutch photographer Annick Ligtermoet’s New York solo debut, “De Verontrustende Wereld” (The Uncanny World), such speculation is complicated not only by the vintage aura of her black-and-white and muted color photographs but also by their presentation alongside aged private objects.

The installation suggests a dissected scrapbook or keepsake box transposed onto gallery walls. Nostalgic items such as a diary, hairpins, and a vanity mirror are displayed in several wall-mounted vitrines scattered throughout the gallery. The photographs, predominately kitschy domestic scenes—a portrait of a finger-sucking baby, a mantelpiece still life featuring a toy robot, and an action shot of a chartreuse-uniformed marching band parading down a suburban block, among them—are pinned directly to the wall at varying intervals and odd heights. The modest scale of the works (some of the photos are wallet size) and the irregular hanging encourage an intimate inspection of each image. Close examination reveals that some of Ligtermoet’s photographs are not actually benign, appropriated memorabilia, but carefully crafted Surrealist composites. Best among them are Familie (Family; all works 2009), a minuscule group portrait in which the faces of all but one of the six family members has been pristinely excised, and Bloeddochter (Blood Daughter), a full-length shot of a toddler whose head has been replaced by a curlicued mass of brain tissue. Ligtermoet’s occasionally violent and generally unsettling manipulations make for arresting compositions, but the overall experience of her “world” is certainly more stimulating than any isolated component.