JTF (just the facts): A total of 4 color photographs, shown in custom wood frames and unmatted, and displayed against white walls in the small back room (the Curatorial Research Lab). All of the works are pigment prints, made in either 2009 or 2011. Physical dimensions of the prints range from 9×14 to 23×28 (or reverse), and the works are available in editions of 5+1AP. (Installation shots at right.)
Comments/Context: Estonian photographer Sigrid Viir’s exploration of the intersection of photography and sculpture goes a step beyond the now commonplace practice of building something to be photographed. While she does indeed construct and make pictures of elaborate installations of everyday objects, she brings her images into the realm of the three dimensional by displaying them in angular wood frames that stand on thin pedestals, roll on wheels, and drop down from high on the walls. It’s a double layer of sculptural thinking, entirely upending our expectations for how we are supposed to interact with a photograph.
Inside Viir’s photographs, objects are piled into dense interlocking forms, with an eye for simple geometries and color interactions. The jutting legs of overturned tables are balanced by the roundness of two white teacups, while an upended leather couch is decorated with silver chairs, yellow plastic bins, and doilies, creating the hint of an anthropomorphic face. Other constructions recall the odd precariousness of Fischli and Weiss, with stacks of glassware and eggs built up in towers and a white folding chair embellished with blue plastic bags filled with air, a green colander, a shiny silver pot lid, and a yellow sponge.
What I found new and exciting though was Viir’s sculptural framing. Suddenly, these photographs become objects that take up space, that need to be navigated around. Images are high and low, out and in, forcing an entirely different path through the tiny gallery space. With the work on wheels, there is even the potential for motion, or at least reconfiguration. I liked the crowded physicality of the works, they drew me in and forced me to consider not only the constructions in the photographs, but the larger construction going on in the room. These ideas were thoughtfully and elegantly nested rather than gimmicky, and I came away impressed by the potential of this approach to smartly extend the definition of photography away from the flat surface of the wall and into the open air of the space in between.
Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced at $2500 each. Viir’s work has not yet found its way to the secondary markets, so gallery retail is likely the only option for interested collectors at this point.