S.E. Ciriclio

University of California at Davis

S.E. CIRICLIO’s “Neighborhood” is purposefully mundane yet thoroughly engaging. Utilizing a city planning map,and shooting pictures from her car window, the artist photographed the 36 streets of her residential neighborhood, dividing each street by the number of proscribed building lots into a corresponding number of photographs. The 31/2 by 51/2 inch color photographs were then sewed with a gridlike stitch into forms replicating the topography of the actual streets. In its full configuration this 100 block expanse measures 30 by 32 by 62 feet. In its current installation, “Neighborhood” is presented in two formats: street configurations arranged in alphabetical order on the wall, and on a raised platform a contact-sized version of the layout, measuring 20 feet in length.

The individual photographs that comprise “Neighborhood” were taken from the same vantage point, but they were shot at different times of day, and in their assembled form, with changes in atmospheric light and parked cars, suggest a disjunctive, almost cubistic vision. But this stylistic suggestion seems incidental to the project. The piece is more firmly anchored in a structuralist method.

Although re-creating a specific east Oakland residential area, “Neighborhood” nevertheless has a universal quality, and viewers have repeatedly appropriated it, insisting it is their neighborhood, in Salt Lake, San Francisco or Atlanta. Having viewed it on two occasions, currently as a wall exhibition and previously as a floor installation, I found the floor arrangement to have more physical dimension, allowing viewers to wander through the street patterns.

Ciriclio’s approach to the image is sympathetic to the new topographics genre, in which an attempt is made to document the landscape with a minimum of stylistic conceit. But her work emerges from the synthetic, Robert Heinecken-styled photography of the late ’60s, and ’70s, in which the traditional physical concepts of the photograph were tested. However, “Neighborhood” is distinct from the neo-Pictorialist and multi-media orientations of this work, in that Ciriclio maintains the technological definition of the straight photograph, while extending the concept of photographic presentation (a tradition garnered from easel painting) through alteration of format and placement. Employing the simplest materials and the most obvious subject matter, Ciriclio imaginatively expands upon the relationship between viewer and photograph.

Hal Fischer