Unction and Industry: an exhibition of new photographs by Diana Kingsley. In this exhibition, Kingsley expands on major concerns of her work: the well-placed non sequitur, self-consciousness, and slyly humorous formal affectations. Though ostensibly her subject matter features closely-cropped nature shots and table-top still lifes, the real protagonist is the hapless photographer as assiduous arranger and cajoler.
The title of the exhibition, Unction and Industry, alludes to a strange dichotomy in the work, whose seamless compositions can be seen as both soothing and domineering. (An alternative meaning for unction, “superficial earnestness,” adds to the rich associations conveyed by the title.)
In Afterlife, a monochromatic medley of melons and balloons cluster awkwardly about a diminutive bowl, belying their more artful reflection on the glass table below. In Weltschmerz, a heap of various cheeses balances on a vague yellow expanse, figuring a strange mix of aplomb and resignation. Summer Friends presents a more foreboding arrangement, either orchestrated by the beetles themselves or unseen troublemakers.
Tropes of seduction run through these works (money, pollination, chocolate, ripe fruit, mushrooms, flowers, driftwood, a snail), but for all their sensuous subject matter and full-blooded color, they remain tentative and a little doleful, suggesting that what is proffered is not likely a promise of something to come.
Diana Kingsley was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1964. She received her BA at Colgate University and her MFA at the School of Visual Arts. She lives and works in New York City.