Critics’ Picks

Sara Magenheimer, Open Mic Solo, 2017, acrylic, archival pigment print, organza, canvas, 54 x 38".

New York

“Frame Structures”

Magenta Plains
94 Allen St
April 1–May 6, 2018

This four-person exhibition takes its name from Susan Howe’s 1996 collection of poems written between 1974 and 1979—early pieces that use notions of place and identity as a method for deconstructing the fixity of history. With sculpture, painting, video, and photography, the artists here take up Howe’s approach to dismantling the idea of narrative through objects and images.

Three digital photographs by Steel Stillman, scanned and enlarged from old snapshots, are documents of fleeting moments. Time-stamps from when the pictures were originally taken appear in the works, confusing the viewer’s temporal relationship to the image. Percolator, 2017, a closeup of a tea-kettle backlit by diffused sunlight, enters the present from January, 1990. Autumn, 2016, which captures a swath of brilliantly red leaves, gives us a sense of what October, 2009 must’ve felt like.

Sara Magenheimer’s Open Mic Solo, 2017, embeds images of spotlit stages into ethereal fields of acrylic paint—the work becomes a disjointed map of performative emptiness. Linnea Kniaz’s shaped painting, The One Special mark is Given a Platform and a Glow but is Still Small, 2013, looks like a small island: anonymous, lonely, and utterly unmoored from specificity. “If you were a continent which one would you be?,” asks a character from Keren Cytter’s video, Object, 2016. The work features a group of people that listlessly play out a series of aggressions against one another in and around Cytter’s apartment. Men toy with guns, knives, their genitals; a woman is bound outdoors in duct tape. Violence could erupt at any moment, but it’s constantly deferred—a story that refuses a climax, or any easy resolution.