Critics’ Picks

Katherine Wolkoff, Deer Bed 2, 2007, C-print, 40 x 50".

Katherine Wolkoff, Deer Bed 2, 2007, C-print, 40 x 50".

New York

Katherine Wolkoff

Sasha Wolf Gallery
70 Orchard Street
May 8–June 30, 2013

The prevailing metaphor of photography is that of the hunt. Photographers shoot, even stalk, their subjects; in the case of Katherine Wolkoff’s work, the absence of “prey” itself becomes the subject of the project. Wandering the fields of Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island, Wolkoff searches for deer beds, the matted-down sections of high grassland that deer create to sleep in. Because deer are skittish animals, those of us who aren’t sportswomen can scarcely imagine a deer relaxing enough to nap, and at times Wolkoff tracks the animals only to have them dart off moments before she arrives. Her series of large-scale color photographs depict the subtlest of traces of wildlife in the landscape; to the uninformed, these areas off the beaten path would be wholly invisible. Portrayed at near life size, and hung from opposite walls, the enclosures in the photographs surround the spectator, and any sense of a horizon line is obscured by the tall meadow. Tamped down and horizontal, as opposed to erect and vertical, the space of the deer bed is the simplest kind of construction—that of the nest. When it is shown in the white cube gallery, the dissonance between these two types of places—between the human-organized and that which is determined by instinct—allows the viewer not only to traverse the remote spaces of nature, but to viscerally inhabit the architectures of the nonhuman.