Critics’ Picks

Matthew Northridge, Welcome Back to the Nuclear Age, 2011, collage on paper, 23 x 27 1/2”.

New York

Matthew Northridge

KANSAS Gallery
210 Rivington Street
November 5–January 7

In his exhibition “Pictures by Wire and Wireless” at this new gallery, Matthew Northridge has inverted the basic utility of maps, collapsing their readability by rolling, crumpling, and obscuring diagrams and representations of charted territory. Yet his collages, sculptures, and installations are configured through the very methods necessary to a cartographer: obsessive research, collecting, and cataloguing visual information.

Northridge’s 12 Ladders, or, How I Planned My Escape, 2009, and Map of Washington DC, 2010, speak to this paradox. In the latter, a tightly rolled map of the nation’s capital fits snugly in a slender, elongated wooden and steel cage, which hangs from a low ceiling. In the former, a small, bucolic photograph of a landscape is pinned precariously in place at knee level by twelve handcrafted, miniature wooden ladders. In both works, the two-dimensional scenery is contained, made abstruse, and just out of reach. Also included in the show are twenty eight-by-ten-inch collages from Northridge’s ongoing series “The World We Live In,” 2006–. Each collage features a photograph of the natural world, sourced from Northridge’s vast archive of wilderness books. The pictures serve as a backdrop onto which he has methodically overlaid graphic abstractions. In effect, the work is a cogent collection of antimaps, all distinct in form but united in meaning. The series recalls another collage in the show, Welcome Back to the Nuclear Age, 2011, which is composed of hundreds of colorful paper fragments, each with a thin, discrete black line connecting to form a single loop that leads to nowhere. Throughout the show, Northridge’s pieces obscure and confuse rather than reveal and describe, ultimately throwing into relief a definition of ourselves based on how and where we’re located. In the best way possible, this show is a no-man’s-land.