November ArtHop: Slowing Down at Erin Shirreff’s ICA show

November 21, 2010 at 9:17 pm Leave a comment

Taken in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April ...

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Erin Shirreff: Still, Flat, and Far at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania through December 5th is a small, one-room multi-media exhibition composed of photographic prints, video, and sculpture.  As the museum’s website states, the ideas behind this show are subtle. Visitors who are looking for a quick “aha” moment will probably be flustered by the quietness of the space.

Everything is seemingly harmonious. The natural colored minimalist sculptures lean against the walls and blend in with the concrete floor. Similarly, angled out of the wall, the screen for the video projection, Moon, is also sculptural.  Although the hard edge geometric shapes of some of the sculptures contrasts with the round moon shapes featured in the video, the moonscape corresponds to the faux stone textures of the sculptures.  Likewise, at first glance the small dark rectangular frames on the walls seem to interrupt the space.  However, the photos are monochromatic and complement the other media.  Nevertheless, the photos aren’t exactly what one expects. The imagery varies from celestial to cityscape.  As mentioned the colors of this exhibition are mainly neutral.  However, the changing light over the moon in the video enlivens the space with soft shades of blues and pinks.

The sculptures are suggestive of 1960s minimalism.  The forms compel visitors to walk around them and to investigate their physical logic. While it makes sense to allow open space to promote  interaction and to maintain the overall spare aesthetic, it would have great if there was some form of seating available in the space. It takes time to appreciate the subtlety of Shirreff’s work since the rich ideas in this show aren’t immediately apparent.  The silent video focuses on what we know about the moon through photography and  highlights the passage of time through changing light.  Visitors can perceive the depth of these ideas if they invest time in the space.

The exhibition brochure written by Lucy Gallun, 2009-2010 Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow, is comprehensive.  It outlines Shirreff’s approach to making art, the various media and themes, and contains a full-page image of the project space.  Gallun’s text is helpful for everyone. However, those in a rush may spend more time reading the brochure than spending time with the works.

Final word: For those with an interest in minimalist sculpture and or conceptualizations of landscape, this exhibition is worthwhile.  But make sure you have some time and are willing to put your thinking cap on. Erin Shirreff: Still, Flat, and Far at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania is on view through December 5th.

Related programming: Wednesday, December 1st, 6:30 pm- Conversation:Erin Shirreff with Kaja Silverman and Lucy Gallun, Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

Entry filed under: Art, Museums, Sculpture. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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