Critics’ Picks

Astrid Nippoldt, My Day, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 4 minutes 33 seconds.

Astrid Nippoldt, My Day, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 4 minutes 33 seconds.


Astrid Nippoldt

The Gallery Apart
Via Francesco Negri, 43
April 23–June 13, 2015

Astrid Nippoldt’s art investigates, documents, reworks as if it is a sociological experiment. Her third solo show at this gallery offers thirteen pieces that were previously shown at the Museum Kurhaus Kleve in Germany. In this body of work, a residential community in Beijing named Oakwood Residence, which accommodates hundreds of people temporarily, becomes a social incubator for relationships and behaviors that are covertly suffocating.

The photographs Kokon, 2012, and Blue Velvet, 2013, fleetingly capture nocturnal glimpses of skyscrapers in Oakwood and its surroundings. Beijing Bedroom, 2012, presents empty rooms in the perfect modular apartments, where the muffling filter of the shots deliberately dissolves any sense of identity. In these warren-like spaces, each nuclear family leads its own life without needing to interact with the pulsating city outside. Printed on A4 paper, the installation Hello everyone, 2012, consists of email conversations among the residents—generally wives of traveling businessmen and other women. The artist insinuates herself between the lines, exposing the vacuous and repetitive superficiality of their daily lives.

The mysterious atmosphere of the photographs is interrupted by the diurnal clarity of the video My Day, 2012, which conveys a viewpoint from inside the building. A second video, Oakwood Garden, 2012, conveys a nighttime exterior view: There are barking dogs, the noise of steps amid shrubbery, and psychedelic colors, which are all linked in an intentionally imprecise take that turns the movement of the camera into a suspense sequence without final resolution. One is left to wonder: Is Oakwood a self-sufficient dwelling or a rest home?

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.