Critics’ Picks

View of “Ben Morgan-Cleveland and Eli Ping: Geschichten,” 2018.

New York

Ben Morgan-Cleveland and Eli Ping

Shoot The Lobster | New York
138 Eldridge Street
September 16–November 4, 2018

Dueling perceptual experiences play out from terrestrial to cosmic scale in Eli Ping and Ben Morgan-Cleveland’s current exhibition. Theories of colliding universes, missing galaxies, and the Cold Spot—a peculiar region of space that has an unusually low temperature—permeate the show. Yet, in keeping with its title, “Geschichten” (Stories), the work here also evokes personal narratives.

A shoji screen made by Morgan-Cleveland, covering a gallery window, softly diffuses sunlight. “Soothing Waterfall,” 2018—a series of fountains constructed with rocks sourced from the artist’s hometown of Bedford, Massachusetts, and upstate New York—is displayed with metal shelving brackets. The fountain’s tubing, exposed and pinned to the wall, emits the meditative sound of flowing water. While Morgan-Cleveland’s site-specific sculptures present a veiled take on the autobiographical and its rootedness in subtle perceptual phenomena, Eli Ping is more direct, offering up candid glimpses of life with his wife and son. “Jessica and Adam,” 2017–18, a series of family snapshots, is framed and propped on a strip of molding in the center of one wall. The toddler’s contrapposto as he stands next to the leg of a kitchen table and chair, or the way the mother and child pose in a doorway, call to mind Mannerist painting, for the quietly odd ways the body is depicted.

Together, the artists transformed the gallery into a site of cool conceptual facture that refuses to deny human warmth and vulnerability, distilling moments of profundity from the most deceptively prosaic of things.