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Indepth Arts News:

"Conspiracy of Vitrines: Work by Lisa Garfield, Mary Cahill, Jayme McLellan, and Mica Scalin"
2003-07-04 until 2003-07-27
Richmond, VA, USA United States of America

Conspiracy of Vitrines examines the reification of an experience, fragmented from its surroundings, into a complete miniaturized world. Each artist creates with their work a portal, an aperture through which one can gain access to it, however limited or controlled the perspective may be. The images in a way become proof of their own relevance, in the same way an object in a museum's vitrine takes on the authoritative quality of evidence.

Lisa Garfield's color photographs are rich collages. Where and when is irrelevant creating a pastiche of time and place. These non-settings are a journey inspired by her own compulsive tendency to wander. Each image presents the possibility of intrigue, mystery, and conspiracy in an ambiguous moment. These large, grainy and saturated photographs full of darkness and void, transform familiar and banal spaces into the tunnels, pathways that will lead to a place of discovery.

Mary Cahill's color photographs are haunted places. Each is a story without a subject, forcing the object to take center stage in humorous yet tragic tableaux. Cahill describes these images when viewed as a whole, as a "strip mall of experience," a destination where the commonplace is reframed into a muted melodrama of dislocation, longing and aspiration. This visual landscape explores the presence and hold of the familiar, while also questioning ideas of convention and social expectation.

Jayme McLellan's hand sewn felt quilts and tapestries overlap familiar cultural iconography and her own personal symbols of representation. In simultaneously representing Washington, DC as both Our Nation's Capital and McLellan's hometown there is a sense of detachment and nostalgia. She describes this project as "a transformation of split second to permanence and reality to dreaming" through two perspectives of a single place.

Mica Scalin's photographic installation represents the convergence of her preconceived notions and actual experiences as a visitor in Japan. The Japanese aesthetic is so intentionally evolved and fully integrated into all aspects of life, that the temptation to make familiar images based on these ideas is difficult to avoid. With this installation, she confronts the parallels that align contemporary cultures and the divergences that keep them from intersecting.

In his essays about small museums of America, Ralph Rugoff writes on the psychology of display: "you are not required to suspend your disbelief, you are asked to surrender your comfort of certainty as well as the idea that history and fiction can be neatly separated." Whether he is referring to the personal or cultural experience is irrelevant as all experience is now subject to "the hyper realities and inflated expectations of entertainment." Working from an awareness of the ever-shifting nature of perception, the artists included in Conspiracy of Vitrines are confronting the way in which this effects an individuals frame of reference. Let these images serve as a guide the way, as a tourist, you have once used a map to direct your gaze. For in this time of blurred boundaries who is not a disoriented traveler?

- Ralph Rugoff from his book Circus Americanus (Verso 1995, London, New York)

Mica Scalin

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