New York

Haris Epaminonda, Untitled #3 a/v, 2016, framed book page, lacquered Japanese wooden bowl, lacquered wooden pedestal, metal, dimensions variable.

Haris Epaminonda, Untitled #3 a/v, 2016, framed book page, lacquered Japanese wooden bowl, lacquered wooden pedestal, metal, dimensions variable.

Haris Epaminonda

Casey Kaplan

Haris Epaminonda, Untitled #3 a/v, 2016, framed book page, lacquered Japanese wooden bowl, lacquered wooden pedestal, metal, dimensions variable.

Offering in lieu of an expository statement a meandering anecdote about one Mr. Morimoto—an elderly Japanese painter who purportedly graced a 2015 exhibition of hers at intervals “based on a timetable according to a graph depicting a fictional mountain”—Haris Epaminonda prefers to present viewers with the kind of narrative that, like Morimoto’s, “continues in the margins.” Using pedestals, tables, architectural modifications, and other devices to frame her works’ components, Epaminonda engineers displays with an almost pathologically neat-and-tidy look, rescuing them from airlessness by playing games of hide-and-seek, wrapping artifacts and ideas around one another and the gallery space.

A description of Untitled #1 a/v, 2016, the first installation in Epaminonda’s exhibition “VOL. XVII,” ought to give some idea of its maker’s approach. A cream-colored Chinese porcelain vase stood atop a low black-and-white lacquered wooden pedestal, one corner of which was protected by a slender metal railing that rose from the floor. On the wall nearby was a framed book page that documented, in a few lines of text, a landscape painting by Chung Lee, a Korean artist active in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Finally, escaping around a corner was an antique-looking iron sculpture of a snake. Certain commonalities between these things—the vase and the catalogue page, for example—seemed straightforward, while others were rather less apparent.

The visual elegance of Epaminonda’s juxtapositions of the vintage, the new, and the timeless has much in common with conspicuously “curated” works by other artists, most notably Carol Bove, yet Epaminonda pushes the use of museological trappings further than others. In this respect, one might even compare her work to that of Liam Gillick (another member of this gallery’s stable) in its attempt to conceptually reenergize specifically delineated zones of physical space. In Untitled #10 a/v, 2016, for example, she added a new freestanding wall to the room, using the brute structure to manipulate the ways in which we apprehended the objects—a Japanese carving of a goldfish; another Chinese vase—that surrounded it.

Occasionally, Epaminonda isolates these contextualizing tools as autonomous sculptures; Untitled #12 a/v, 2016, and Untitled #02 a/u, 2015, for example, are linear metal structures that resemble simple floor plans. Mostly, however, they remain elements of rangy mise-en-scènes, sometimes also used to playfully disrupt other elements. In Untitled #7 a/v and Untitled #8 a/v, both 2016, for example, pedestals partially blocked our view of two framed book pages featuring idyllic landscape photographs, which sat on the floor and leaned against the wall. And in Untitled #3 a/v, 2016, a somewhat elaborate pedestal supporting a lacquered Japanese wooden bowl stood in front of a found photograph of a carving of a horse’s head.

But exactly where such overt (but gentle) misdirection leads is impossible to say. We know, or may construe, something general about the origins and style of the objects and images, but lack sufficient detail to home in on a specific critique of content or context. The extreme visual and atmospheric contrast between the richness of such elements as the brass model of Kyoto’s Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion in Untitled #16 a/u, 2015, and the pared-down lines of the barriers, boxes, and platforms that interacted with them was at once pleasing and oppressive, as if the artist intended to both liberate her subjects from their roots and confine them within a refined aesthetic prison.

Michael Wilson