Critics’ Picks

Theater 3 shapes (detail 3), 2001-2.

Theater 3 shapes (detail 3), 2001-2.

Los Angeles

Kelly Nipper

Shoshana Wayne Gallery
4835 W. Jefferson Blvd.
July 25, 2013–June 15, 2002

All photography is fundamentally concerned with time. First, there is the actual length of the exposure, usually fractions of a second, but as long as several hours, as in Hiroshi Sugimoto’s blank-screened theaters. Then, there is what Roland Barthes described as photography’s “that-has-been,” the fact that whatever we see in a photograph is already past and irretrievably lost. The two series and two individual works in Kelly Nipper’s current exhibition directly engage with the problem of representing time photographically. For the largest series, timing exercises, 2001-2002, which magisterially stretches across the entire back wall, Nipper asked six people to experience the passing of ten minutes and stop a digital clock when they felt it expired. The results are presented as six diptychs: On the left, a portrait of the person with eyes closed against a uniform white background; on the right, the digital clock at the time it was stopped. Our impressions of these people change radically when the images are juxtaposed with their LED readouts: That woman who appears so focused must be very tense, for she stopped the clock at 6 minutes 37 seconds. In this series and in the other works on view—for instance, 60 minutes of hourglass sand, 2001-2002, Nipper’s image of sixty minutes of sand from an hourglass blowing across a room—one is moved by the desire and the futility of the attempt to capture time.