Critics’ Picks

Charlotte Moth, Study for a 16mm film, 2011, 16 mm, color, 11 minutes 28 seconds.

Charlotte Moth, Study for a 16mm film, 2011, 16 mm, color, 11 minutes 28 seconds.


Charlotte Moth

Marcelle Alix
4 rue Jouye-Rouve
September 13–November 3, 2012

Charlotte Moth’s photographs and films emphasize the complex relationship between these media and their subject matters. For Moth—who often shoots her own sculptures, assemblages, and staged events and habitually conducts extensive research before setting her camera in a particular location—content and methodology are as much the medium as a digital or analog capture.

The titles of the two films on view underscore Moth’s elastic understanding of what constitutes a “final” artwork. The subject of In Unexpected Places, in Unexpected Lights and Colours (a Sculpture Made to be Filmed) (all works 2012) is a large wooden crate adorned with colored lightbulbs—in fact a sculpture that Moth has previously exhibited under the title Sculpture made to be filmed. In the film, Moth captures the structure spinning amid a flat Texan landscape in moody, emphatically cinematic black and white. In Study for a 16mm film, 2011, various geometric objects cast mesmerizing shadows and reflections as they appear to wobble and whirl across a tabletop. Technically a digitally transferred 16-mm film, this work also includes a curated collection, a kinetic sculpture, and a performance.

Moth’s two large-format photographs comment on photography’s documentary role—specifically in relation to architecture and sculpture. In the simplest terms, Willa Niespodzianka is a photo of a photo. Moth stilt-mounted her own print of a Polish modernist house, placed it in the landscape in front of the actual house, and documented the installation. The multilayered, self-referential result raises issues of authorship and authenticity. The other photograph (titled ...this was the plane—the variously large and accentuated, but always exactly determined plane—from which everything would be made..., 2012) is a more straightforward illustration of the inherent subjectivity of defining and exposing a final artwork: In it, Moth directs our gaze to a solitary empty stone plinth in Paris’s Parc des Buttes Chaumont.