In her work across media, Erin Shirreff (b. 1975) mines the network that connects sculpture to its photographic representation. Her acclaimed and interrelated bodies of work include video studies of individual photographs, cut-metal and poured-plaster sculptural assemblages, interruptive and overlapping photographs and collages, and photographic canvases, which depict forms that refer to her sculpture.
In an age when the ubiquity of smartphones has effectively collapsed the firsthand viewing of art with the creation of its representation, Shirreff explores the many ways we still try to access or “grasp” objects: through the photographic images we circulate, the art historical narratives we construct, and the time we dedicate to absorption. As much as our encounters with Shirreff’s artworks are corporeal—we physically and sensorially navigate the scale, texture, stuff, and weight of these objects and traces—their dialogue with history is also phantasmagoric. They ask us to enter the spaces between objects and our memories of them, and between representation and its history.
This first large-scale museum survey in the United States of Shirreff’s work is organized by the Albright-Knox and ICA/Boston (where it was on view August -November, 2015) and is accompanied by a catalogue. At the Albright-Knox, Shirreff will supplement the exhibition of her work with a group of historical photographs from the museum’s archives dating from the early 1900s to the late 1960s. These document a wide range of possible interactions between museum visitors, employees, photographers, and sculptural objects in the museum setting.
Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog Erin Shirreff reveals an artistic practice that is conceptually rich and imbued with a lush sense of history. Engaging with various media, with works in video, photography and sculpture, the artist riffs on the traditions of Modernism and Conceptualism. Shirreff's work is situated in the lineage of figures such as Robert Smithson and Thomas Struth.