New York

Roger Cutforth

John Gibson Gallery

By comparison, Roger Cutforth’s work makes it clear that there is such a thing as too much accessibility. Cutforth also works with film, and often still photography, in a way which juxtaposes various states of mobility and immobility. In the largest piece in his recent exhibition, three near life-size images of women walking outdoors cover two walls of the gallery. The initial impact is startling since the gallery walls are almost dissolved, opened up into landscape space. The women are all walking forward, but they never get any closer. Through the use of a zoom lens, the cameras pull back at the rate their subjects approach. Each figure walks in one spot, and the only measurable movement is the reduction of the surrounding landscape’s size and, therefore, an expansion of its space. In another piece, a film loop of a stationary shot of Greenwich (the 17th-century royal house on the Thames, designed by Inigo Jones), is paired with a projection of a slide of Canaletto’s painting of the same subject. Except for the movement of the river, they are almost identical. In each piece there is the brief second of ambiguity during which you figure out just what is moving and what is not, and the kinds and layers of illusion at play. The work is involved with trompe l’oeil and is characteristically clean, light, and ironic. The cinematic devices are also familiar by now.

––Roberta Smith