Solo show Lucas Schoormans Gallery, New York, (2006)
Suc des Vosges, January 26 – March 4, 2006

For her third solo exhibition at Lucas Schoormans Gallery, British artist Liz Rideal presents a suite of photo-collages and collage-based works, all created in 2005. Rideal continues her signature practice of organizing each composition according to a grid comprised of the modular four-frame strips issued by commercial photo-booths. The artist also will debut Suc des Vosges (2005), her latest film and the first to be shown in the U.S. The near-abstract footage was shot near the mountain village of Le Valtin in France.

The roughly one dozen works on view include collages of photo-strips in black-and-white and in color, among which are several multi-panel works. New to Rideal’s formal syntax are all-white vertical framing elements, photo-strips that essentially represent pure light. Also new to her practice is the location at which the black-and-white component strips were shot: a photo-booth provided at the manufacturer’s facility in Zurich. For the exhibition, a group of the black-and-white works have been enlarged as silver prints on Ilford paper. Using the commercial photo-booth as her camera for two decades, Rideal has recast the popular apparatus as a private site of disciplined performance. In the resulting pictures, certain configurations (the saw-toothed silhouettes of nettle leaves, the stark graphic patterns of cast-bronze roots) may seem wholly rehearsed, while others (the buoyant, flaring poses assumed by tossed panels of sheer fabric) may seem blithely improvised. Yet in all cases, once a sequence has been initiated, each frame’s composition must be engineered in the brief pause between the pre-timed activations of the machine’s shutter and flash. Editing begins in the booth and concludes in the collage.

Rideal’s featured “performers” further personalize the mechanical enterprise: the plant elements have been gathered in the artist’s London garden, the fabrics acquired on her travels. And theatricality is not a casual reference point for Rideal. The curtained cubicle of the photo-booth is suggestive of a marionette stage—the ballets des pantins referenced in some of her titles—where the artist, like the puppet master, crafts an illusion while remaining just out of sight.

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