philadelphia

Peter Campus

Locks Gallery

From afar, the six new works exhibited by Peter Campus in “the earth is nowhere” at Locks Gallery look more like diagrams than landscapes. Five of them are digital videos of sites in, on, or near Long Island Sound played in six-minute loops on their own flat-screen monitors. A formalist critic might see in the austere geometry of these views a contemporary equivalent to Manet’s paintings of the Normandy coast, where masts and piers vie with flat areas of intense blue to submit the order of reality to the order of the picture plane.

To replicate Manet’s conflation of figure and field, Campus creates maddeningly uneventful, startlingly abstracted scenes. The atmosphere is melancholic; human activity is practically nonexistent, the sound mere ambient noise. Set in a spare, spacious, dimly lit gallery, the sextet here formed a series in real space whose formal rigor matched that of each scene.

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