A witty semiotic game presents itself in the work of Cynthia Greig. The American photographer explores the spaces of various contemporary art galleries, exposing their fundamental physical features. Through a series of photographs and videos, the artist puts the exhibition spaces themselves on display, letting the aesthetics and the essence of the white cube have the upper hand. The minimalist photographs showcase the interior spaces as if they were landscapes or parts of some artificial terrain, which appear to be the subject, rather than secondary elements standing in the background that they usually are. In addition, she names her upcoming exhibition Exhibitionism, which makes the dual nature of the exhibition even more compelling.
The photographic images aim to challenge our perception, stripping these gallery spaces down to their bare material reality. The spaces are pulled out of the context, one which contributes to their initial purpose, and then gently put in the spotlight. Shifting the focus from close-up views of the walls and details, to the topography of the “vast, artificial landscape” of gallery spaces, Greig tries to reveal the state in which these spaces are. Mediating between the permanent and the ephemeral, the artist reflects on architecture, referring to physical structure which is subject to decay and has its own particular history. Focusing primarily on the passing of time, which takes its toll on the impossibly pristine ideal suggested by Modernism, the artist allows for certain narratives to arise. However, she disregards the purpose of space anticipated by the people who use it, and dismisses possible events that may occupy it. Instead of dealing with the constraints imposed by the program, Cynthia Greig often seems to observe the galleries as self-sufficient spaces, sites, or even sculptures.
On this occasion, the artist will present four bodies of work, each of which addresses the illusory nature of photography. Gallery Horizons and Gone (Circles and Squares) consist of works which provide different perspectives on the texture of drywalls and concrete found in gallery spaces. The photographs contain details and elements which are reminiscent of rugged terrains, and play with our perception of scale, which can easily be transfigured through two-dimensional photographic imagery. Threshold is the third series, in which art on view is removed digitally from the images, leaving the exhibition space empty. Finally, Gallery Interventions comes as ironic commentary on current happenings related to downsizing or shutting multiple gallery locations down. This series is most engaged in narration, and it contains suggestive marks written on walls of certain galleries (“SOLD” signs).
Ultimately, Cynthia Greig’s interest in contemporary gallery spaces poses questions which translate onto entire art scene. The artist’s goal is to demystify the context of displaying art, and to express her feelings and observations related to art galleries, which she sees as metaphors for a world on the brink of dramatic change. Exhibitionism will come to Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto, on April 2nd, and it will be on view until April 30th 2016. The reception will be held on Saturday, April 2nd, 2 - 5 PM.
Featured image: Cynthia Greig - George Condo, Berlin, 2013. © Cynthia Greig, Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery.