Magazine article Artforum International

Kim Keever: Kinz + Tillou Fine Art

Magazine article Artforum International

Kim Keever: Kinz + Tillou Fine Art

Article excerpt

Kim Keever's ethereal color photographs of constructed landscape dioramas are undeniably seductive--a gaggle of ladies-who-lunch cooed admiringly over them on my visit to the New Yorker's recent exhibition--but their purportedly "subversive" edge is blunt indeed. Keever employs a nice balance of the sophisticated and the jury-rigged, and sets up some mildly entertaining confusions of scale, but his images' hazy visual atmospherics ultimately lack a tempering conceptual lucidity. An adjacent exhibition of paintings by Hudson River School artists such as Alfred Thompson Bricher, John William Casilear, and Hermann Herzog hammered home the photographs most obvious historical touchstone, but Keever's "update" feels no less programmatic.

An introductory wall text and studio shot--an image that is in some ways more satisfying than any of the works--gave the game away before it had started. Depicting a large glass acquarium housing a passage of wooded countryside rendered in highly convincing miniature and submerged in cloudy water, the documentary snap primed one to expect the slightly unexpected. The image of the glassed-in setup surrounded by a clutter of lights, gels, and camera gear reveals that what appear at first to depict lush pastoral scenes of silvery lakes, mist-shrouded valleys, and snowcapped mountains in fact record scenes from the artist's imagination that have been realized at intimate, bonsai-tree scale.

Whether this added layer of artifice adds a significant layer of affect, however, is debatable. Keever's project does have echoes in contemporary art: Mariele Neudecker made a minor name for herself a decade ago with a similar combination of subject and technique (though in her case the models themselves were shown), while another German artist, Thomas Demand, also achieved canonical status by photographing scale models (albeit with a very different agenda). …

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