When you look at a sculpture in the park, you’re not just looking at a sculpture in the park.
You’re looking at the light – morning, afternoon, twilight, moonlight – reflecting off its surface. You’re looking through the snow, or rain, or mist that encircles it. You’re looking at it from a particular angle, from a particular distance, from a particular disposition. So it isn’t just one sculpture you’re looking at, but one version of an infinite number subject to infinite variables.
These notions of multiplicity, perspective and long-looking are part of Canadian-born artist Erin Shirreff’s practice, which is the subject of the artist’s first large-scale museum survey in the United States opening Friday in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave.). The show, which was organized by Albright-Knox curator Cathleen Chaffee and Jenelle Porter of Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, contains video studies of photographs, plastic and metal sculptures, photographic collages and what the gallery calls “photographic canvases.” The show also will feature photographs from the gallery’s archives which “catalog a wider range of possible interactions between museum visitors, employees, photographers and sculptural objects.”
“In an age when the ubiquity of smartphones has effectively collapsed the firsthand viewing of art with the creation of its representation, Shirreff explores the many ways we still try to access or ‘grasp’ objects: through the photographic images we circulate, the art historical narratives we construct, and the time we dedicate to absorption,” a release from the gallery reads.
At 7:15 p.m. Friday, Shirreff will join Chaffee in the Albright-Knox auditorium for a talk about Shirreff’s work and the exhibition. The show, simply titled “Erin Shirreff,” runs through May 8. Call 882-8700 or visit albrightknox.org.
– Colin Dabkowski