Art In America

Sarah Charlesworth

at Maccarone,
630 Greenwich St.

Among the more than 20 thematically linked series of photographs Sarah Charlesworth (1947-2013) produced, "Objects of Desire" (1983-88) may be the most striking and alluringly enigmatic. Most of the works in the series present images of ritual objects from various cultures—white wedding dresses, Buddha statues, ceremonial masks—within monochromatic fields. In some cases, individual human figures, apparently engaged in ritual practices though here excised from that context, are also depicted. The works propose a complex notion of the photograph, one in which representation coexists with abstraction, and images are treated as physical objects. Lacquered wood frames in colors matching the dominant color of each photograph lend the works a quasi-sculptural quality. In Charlesworth's hands, photography retains a fundamental sense of magic and tragedy, qualities as integral to the medium's historical development as any technical process or theoretical discourse.

 

 

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