Critics’ Picks

Mariah Robertson, 113, 2012, C-print on metallic paper, 2 1/2' x 164'.

Middletown

“Picture/Thing”

Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery
283 Washington Terrace
January 29 - March 1

If the viewing of photography and sculpture—picture planes and three-dimensional objects—requires distinct sets of perceptual habits, “Picture/Thing” offers a complex investigation that merges them. Curators Sasha Rudensky and Jeffrey Schiff present works by ten artists who employ a variety of approaches to question both media, but all share a certain nostalgia for the physical encounter between subject and object.

Addressing notions of display and memory, Erin Shirreff’s Monograph (no. 4), 2014, comprises photographs capturing digitally modified images of maquettes inspired by catalogue reproductions of midcentury artworks. Folded in half, the images reference the folios of the original books that served as sources and immediately provoke the impulse to touch. Books also appear in Leslie Hewitt’s “Still Life Series,” 2013. Leaning against the wall, her arrangements of assembled ordinary objects reflect the act of making sculpture but also encode references to specific versions of human history (like James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time).

Immediate interactions with materiality characterize Mariah Robertson’s sculptural installation 113, 2012, which the artist created by pouring chemicals directly onto the surface of a 164-foot cascade of photographic paper to generate multicolored, abstract patterns, beautifully dismantling the predictability and reproducibility of photography. Meanwhile, Anouk Kruithof’s photographic sculpture Facade, 2014, examines the psychology of corporate New York: Photo stickers, bricks, and polystyrene blocks accompany anonymous, sometimes illegible imagery of walls, men, and suits. Multilayered and with shifting views of color and content, the piece—like much of the exhibition overall—denies a definitive perspective yet searches for the moment in which facades might crack.