Critics’ Picks

Nick Relph, Past Ten Past Ten, 2013, C-print, 48 x 30”.

Nick Relph, Past Ten Past Ten, 2013, C-print, 48 x 30”.


Nick Relph

Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road
September 20–November 10, 2013

For “Tomorrow There Is No Recording,” Nick Relph articulates the surface and construction of images using photographs and textiles. Starting with the wall of the gallery entrance, the vinyl lettering of the show’s title has been obscured by five framed C-prints. One of these, Responds to the Name (all works 2013), is a close-up rendering of an undulating stream of water frozen by the camera as it is poured into a basin—the work bears a flattened patina that introduces the exhibition theme.

Two similar C-prints are installed on the wall of the main gallery; Past Ten Past Ten, for example, pictures an abstract immediate view of a turntable with three circular cracks across the foreground that literally puncture the photograph’s surface. Another eight works, in a variety of woven textiles, have been assembled with a traditional four-harness floor loom. Each of these is a standard forty-eight-by-thirty inches and is positioned at eye level on one of the four white gallery walls; thus this straightforward sequential layout resembles film frames, borrowing the cinematic language regularly associated with Relph’s past work. Once the viewer is closer to these works, the texture of the canvases diverges from straight facsimile. The glinting of the silk within the two striped beige-and-black-toned versions of Service Entrance, the respective burgundy-and-gray monochromes of Beginning King and Mondegreen, and the use of copper tape in Quarterer display the process and materiality of their construction. The strong presence of silk throughout, a symbol of ancient cross-continental economic exchange and fabrication, refers to its own material origins in a conceptual collapse. Artifact and its image are nearly interchangeable.