From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you Danica Willard Sachs’ assessment of Sara VanDerBeek’s solo show Ancient Objects, Still Lives at Altman Siegel Gallery in San Francisco. Willard Sachs notes that the work “…suggest[s] that the past and present are not so easily partitioned when placed under VanDerBeek’s careful aesthetic watch.” This article was originally published on July 21, 2014.
Sara VanDerBeek’s photographs in her latest exhibition Ancient Objects, Still Lives counter any notion that the still life is a staid mode of image making. Rather, her dreamy rose and violet digital chromogenic prints and minimalist sculptures both compress and expand time, revealing formal lineages between ancient and modern forms.
Although many of VanDerBeek’s images focus on details of the Pre-Columbian artifacts she photographed during her participation in the 12th Cuenca Bienal in Ecuador, the exhibition is thematically anchored by the more abstract diptych Incidence (all work is from 2014). Hung on the gallery’s central wall, each of Incidence’s panels depicts a white triangular prism hovering in flat, periwinkle-hued space. In the image on the right the polyhedron appears stationary, one of its stark white faces parallel to the picture plane. The image on the left, however, is doubly exposed, showing the same angle as the right panel with the polyhedron also pivoted several degrees around its front vertex. With this simple juxtaposition of perspectives, VanDerBeek “animates” the image, fleshing out the volume of the form and revealing the still life as both a static moment and as an index of the time it took make the image.