Don't wait for the final hours of Scott Kip's show, "Illuminating Structures," which closes Dec. 16 - call now and make an appointment to see his three timely, affecting sculptures at FLUXspace in Kensington. The staff is as accommodating as can be, given that its members have other professional commitments.
Kip, a furniture-maker and graduate of the University of the Arts who has been working on the restoration of the Wanamaker organ at Macy's, doesn't call himself an artist, but these three self-contained, introspective sculptures say otherwise.
Each of these works - titled
, and positioned starkly in a row - initially resembles a mammoth camera mounted inside a black metal cage or surrounded by black metal scaffolding (not metal, it turns out, but black-painted wood). On closer examination, the "camera" part is more like an old warehouse building.
has a cylindrical shape like a silo or a water tank underneath it.
All three pieces appear to be lit from within but are actually reflecting light from a lamp hanging overhead. The first and middle pieces,
, have square, aperturelike windows that offer views into each other and the third and last piece,
Eerily, there is no view from
. Ominously, that steady ticking sound you are hearing emanates from a tiny, hand-wound clock mounted inside
If contemporary art seems to have taken a slightly somber turn recently, that would not explain the sense of stillness and hush in the black-and-white still-life photographs of Richard Kagan and the almost colorless ones of Sookang Kim: Both these photographers have worked in their respective styles for more than a decade.
Kagan, a former furniture-maker, became a photographer in the late 1980s and made his first still lifes in the early 1990s (he has also shot landscapes). Kim, who studied painting in Korea, then received a master's degree in photography from Pratt Institute in 1998, has been photographing objects from her daily life since 1997.
Positioned in the center of his photographs, against dark backdrops, Kagan's images of sugar nippers, Japanese scissors, pliers and other everyday objects with elegant, elongated forms clearly are meant to allude to the human figure and the history of portraiture. The most obviously anthropomorphic (and most amusing) of these,
, bring William Wegman's Weimaraner portraits to mind. Some of Kagan's less comely subjects, among them the sad-looking
Exhaust Muffler #1
, seem out of place in this group.
Kim, who has previously photographed objects wrapped in fabric and pieces of clothing, has now turned her lens on ceramic vessels and stones. (She made her vessel prints in 2006, by the way, long before the Giorgio Morandi craze sparked by the Italian artist's soon-to-close survey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.) Kim's labor-intensive gum bichromate printing process, in which an image is built up by applying multiple layers of light-sensitive emulsion on non-photographic paper, makes her mundane objects appear to be drawn or airbrushed onto paper.
Kim obviously has made an effort to arrange her objects as if they somehow landed there. The photographs that depict casual stacks of bowls, or a line of stones all of approximately the same size - as opposed to those trying to create a relationship between two solitary cups or two mismatched stones, for instance - look the most uncontrived.