Christopher Williams

David Zwirner | London
24 Grafton Street
March 17, 2017–May 20, 2017

Christopher Williams, Model-Nr.: 1421, Model-Nr.: 2401, Model-Nr. 92173, Model-Nr. 92182 (Young workers in discussion) Studio Rhein Verlag, Düsseldorf, January 21, 2017, 2017, archival pigment print on cotton rag paper, 21 x 26".

Christopher Williams’s recent exhibitions have been prefaced by open letters. Sometimes addressed to the models participating in his images, the letters act as a strategy that cuts across intimate dialogues and public debate, unveiling constructions of the self and the institutions of everyday life. He opens up the deep complexity of institutional structures while putting human detail into the frame.

Williams’s newest images reveal objects of domestic consumer desire: designer cooking pots here, stalks of wholesome wheat there, or the back window of a car with happy children performing for the camera. The labor on which this image of perfection depends is revealed textually, as the letter alludes to instructions and dialogues from within the photo studio, drawing attention to the control of gesture in the production of normality.

Williams retains an interest in the exhibition at the same time. Present are the temporary walls that form a key part of Williams’s vocabulary. A specimen from the artist’s collection has been refabricated six times—notes, holes, and all—positioned to narrow and unsettle the regularity of the gallery space. The theme of repetition traverses walls, imagery, and technologies, but takes aim specifically at the reproduction of conditions within everyday life, especially toward institutions that have hidden their institutionalizing tendencies. Williams makes another distinctive gesture at the show’s beginning: He turns the gallery’s front desk and entryway, understood as a kind of nonspace, into a site. Using the reception area to display his letters, he extends the parentheses of the gallery frame—now the desk staff comes out of the shadows and into our view.

Duncan Wooldridge