Elizabeth McAlpine

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Elizabeth McAlpine
'The Map of Exactitude (#11)', 2012

Willem de Kooning famously defined himself as a 'slipping glimpser'; the phrase feels equally applicable to Elizabeth McAlpine. In some ways her work is simple and circular. It's about the studios in which it's made – half of the work here draws on a studio residency in Vienna, the other half was made in another artist's London workspace. But from that solid starting point, McAlpine goes on to complexly consider the limitations of representation.

Black-and-white photos feature scattered trails of light against blackness; small, multiply exposed fragments of imagery – balconies, buckets, door handles, the recycled materials logo; and a lot of unrecognisable stuff. The photographs are ridged, as if they've been folded and flattened: the result, apparently, of the photographic paper being placed inside 'eccentric cameras' before being unfolded and exposed, and placed in McAlpine's carefully shaped frames. Her sculptures, meanwhile, are cast from the corners and vaulted ceilings of these studios – literal concretisations of space.

All of this feels very specific and tenacious, suggesting at once the impossibility of capturing spatial experience and that an accumulation of glances might be the truest possible portrait of a given place. A century on, we're not yet over cubism, and I'd be surprised if McAlpine hasn't dipped into Gaston Bachelard's theoretical tome 'The Poetics of Space'. Yet that's not to deny the rewarding specificities of her work: the austere poise of her sculptures and the frequent cloudy gorgeousness of her photos, with their plunging shifts of scale and fusing of glimmering imagery and abstraction.


Event website: http://www.laurabartlettgallery.com
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