new-york

James Casebere

Diane Brown Gallery, Sonnabend Gallery

James Casebere’s photographs seem to aspire to the condition of language—or at least to its generality. Stripped of detail and reduced to simple white forms, the objects he carves out of wood and arranges in his setups are carefully unspecific. They aren’t even themselves; instead they allude to recognizable generic forms—flower pots, detergent bottles, teddy bears. His constructions, several of which were shown at Sonnabend, are doll-sized, like architectural models for the Pillsbury Dough Boy, but in themselves they’re fairly uninteresting. It’s only when he photographs them, choosing emotionally fraught points of view and melodramatic chiaroscuro lighting to heighten their references to theatrical and film conventions, that they take on their full complexity. Then the interplay among the various codes he manipulates becomes intense, with his generic objects presented in a medium (

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