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Erin Shirreff, Landscapes, Heads, Drapery, and Devils

Lisa Cooley
34 Orchard Street, 347-351-8075
East Village / Lower East Side
October 25 - December 20, 2009
Reception: Sunday, October 25, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Lisa Cooley is pleased to present new work by Erin Shirreff in her first solo exhibition with the gallery, Landscapes, Heads, Drapery, and Devils. The exhibition opens on Sunday, October 25th and runs until December 20th, 2009. A reception for the artist will be held on October 25th, from 6 until 8 pm.

The exhibition title derives from a list of things that are commonly “seen” when we are confronted with perceptual ambiguity. In the moments before our mind can reconcile an unfamiliar shape or mass, it overlays fragments of a known quantity in an effort to recognize and order our experience. This process of projection and the fragments of our selves that we embed into our understanding of the world—the making of recognition—has been the basis of Shirreff’s photography, video, and sculpture for the past several years. The nonspecific descriptors in the show’s title sets the stage for a body of work that is temporally placeless; in Landscapes, Heads, Drapery, and Devils Shirreff conjures forms that evoke ancient geologic history and otherworldly, ephemeral phenomena.

A series of silver gelatin photographs depict small sculptures the artist has molded from wax-based clay. Hovering in a field of black, the shapes emerge from shadow and present themselves as a plainspoken taxonomy, albeit of an indeterminate subject. Lustrous, incised surfaces and billowy, flared volumes recall artifacts from prehistory, diagrams, simple organisms, or astral events, sometimes all at once.

In Two Moons, a pair of adjacent video monitors screen an image of a moon-like orb partially shrouded in darkness. In one, the form takes shape gradually as the ambient light brightens and dims; the other rotates in the frame, revealing its shape as it slowly rolls into view. Two Moons continues Shirreff’s interest in our experience of form when it is flattened into image and at a remove—the way we perceive the moon in our own night sky—and the effect duration has on what and how we see. ?

In a similar vein is Roden Crater, a video composed of hundreds of still images taken of a photograph of the titular land mass in northern Arizona. Shot under a variety of lighting conditions the image fluctuates between appearing flat and volumetric, like a reproduction and a recording of the actual space. James Turrell purchased the land in 1979 and for the past thirty years has been building a massive earthwork intended to frame our perception of the night sky. Shirreff’s video focuses on the profile of the ancient crater and the manner in which it, like most other land art, circulates—as image. Flash reflection on the photograph’s surface resembles a sun while the sky’s hue shifts from vibrant blue to violet, from sepia to an obliterating white.?

A new series of three-dimensional works leaning against the gallery wall look like fragments of large-scale modernist sculpture. Made from compressed ash, they are composed of thin, angled sheets set on edge that come together in simple structures of corners and planes. Their gray-beige coloration and the patterning of the hand-packed ash create a suggestive cloud-like abstraction on their blank surfaces. From a distance they look like granite; their fragile, handmade composition is revealed only on a closer look. They are relics made anew out of material remnants.?

Erin Shirreff lives and works in New York City. She holds an MFA from Yale University (2005) and a BFA from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Recent exhibitions include Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Some Thing Else at Peter Blum, both in New York, To the left of the rising sun with Small A Projects Upstate, and the Dark Fair at the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne. She will present a solo booth for Frame at the 2009 Frieze Art Fair and will be exhibiting alongside Barbara Kasten and Anthony Pearson at Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago in spring 2010.
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