Magazine article Artforum International

Yamini Nayar: THOMAS ERBEN

Magazine article Artforum International

Yamini Nayar: THOMAS ERBEN

Article excerpt

The overwhelming experience of looking at Yamini Nayar's photographs is that of mystification: One can look and look and still be puzzled. The photographs invite us to view them as representations of three-dimensional space, but they complicate or even do away with the tools we use, largely without realizing it, for interpreting volume: perspective, vanishing point, background, and foreground. It is difficult to describe, much less understand, what one sees.

To create these beguiling images, Nayar built ephemeral sculptural tableaux from little bits of this and that, paper, foil, and string, and other kinds of detritus less easy to identify, and photographed them from different angles, and in slightly different configurations. In Cascading Attica (all works 2011), a panel, mostly rectangular, of smoky gray interrupts swaths of rich blue that swirl down from collaged photographs of windows. The blue regions are clearly composed of three-dimensional materials: aqua pieces of broken-up something (wood, chalk, or clay) and painted and modeled ridges of a deeper blue. The gray panel, by contrast, looks flat--it is a semitranslucent, reflective foil--though one area interposes itself in front of the blue and elsewhere disappears behind ir. Imagining what this might have looked like on a tabletop is nearly impossible.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A small untitled work, from a scries called "Housing Studies," dislocates our sense of space by placing an encrusted grid in front of some pink and gold bits. This grid--like a rational system, imposed on chaos, that has subsequently broken down--both flattens the space behind it and renders it more mysterious. Memorious, the only work in this exhibition to use actual collage, has the additional effect of dislocating us in time. Here, two slices from a photograph are placed atop a photo of a cement-lined pit littered with scraps of string and ribbon. …

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