1. Michele Oka Doner: Feasting On Bark is open at Marlborough Gallery until May 16, 2015.
An internationally acclaimed artist whose prolific career spans four decades, Michele Oka Doner is inspired by a lifelong study and appreciation of the natural world from which she derives her formal vocabulary. The exhibition includes life-sized bronze and wax figures, blown glass balls in varying sizes that are hand-etched with the forms of pollen seeds or distant planets, anthropomorphic terracotta figures, bronze bees—as Gregory Volk has written in the catalogue essay, “…sculptures that resemble plants, plants that resemble sculptures, rock shards that look human, bronze or wax forms that that look to be growing, fossils that look magical, and bodies that look vegetal…” This body of work is influenced by the artist’s knowledge of botany and entomology. Prominently featured among these works is Hominin Relic, a fossil-like, monumental figure made of tree bark and wax hanging from a scaffold; a work that appears at once animated and fossilized.
2. Erin Shirreff: Arm’s Length is open at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. until May 22, 2015.
Over the past several years, Erin Shirreff has developed a body of work that attempts to explore and enact a bodily experience of mediated form in various ways. Working with sculpture, photography, and video, at times Shirreff meshes these mediums: hundreds of stills become long, slow-moving videos; small, handmade objects become large-scale photographic portraits; pictures become half-formed, shadowy structures. Present in all of her work is an abiding interest in the physical and psychological properties of the ‘image’ — still, flat, frontal, apart. The works on view in Arm’s Length pivot on our sense of scale, specifically the shifts in scale within a picture plane. Playing with enlargements, reductions, and scale-less geometries, in this exhibition Shirreff sets in motion a series of two- and three-dimensional propositions that foreground the expectations we bring to encounters with objects and their representation. Shapes and forms recur in different modes and materials throughout the show, as do arrangements that tread the line between composition and chance — materials are used as pictures and as things themselves. “Arm’s length” describes an enforced distance between two entities using the language of the body. This space is of interest to Shirreff inasmuch as it represents a more fundamental separation implicit in looking and creating meaning in the world — a site of loss, imagination, and projection.
3. Nina Beier is open at Metro Pictures until May 23, 2015.
Beier’s latest works at Metro Pictures elaborate on her interest in the relationship between objects and their representation. Persistently tracking the status of images in our world, Beier develops a transmutable lexicon all her own. She extracts objects from their circumscribed settings and exposes their layers of historical, cultural and social information.In Plunge, a series of sculptures, Beier selects photographs found on image banks and reproduces them using actual objects. Cast in clear resin inside oversized wine glasses and hollow glass mannequin heads, the individual objects are suspended in a paradoxical state in which they simultaneously remain independent things, comprise an image and become parts of a sculpture.In another series, Beier presses Hermès silk neckties, with their distinctive allover patterns, inside large frames with down jackets, sleeping bags, feathers and human hair wigs. Approximations of two-dimensional compositions, the neckties coil around sleeping bags, constricting the suggested figures inside them into a semblance of an embryonic form, or animate the jackets, wigs and feathers as if caught in a sudden windstorm.