Friday, March 30, 2007

Lorna Simpson

Talking Pictures
by Vince Aletti April 2, 2007

Lorna Simpson makes photographs and films that deal with race, gender, and identity, but if that sounds forbiddingly polemical, you’ve got the wrong idea. The work in her elegantly spare mid-career survey at the Whitney never gives off the chill of haute conceptualism. From the beginning, Simpson has tempered formal sophistication (typically, a multipart arrangement of photographs and text panels) with teasing and provocative ambiguity. Her work is poetic, layered, and tantalizingly open-ended; it never tells us what to think (much less what she thinks), but it won’t allow us to slip mindlessly through its grasp. Images of hairpieces, full lips, black glass vessels, and the bodies of black men and women whose faces are turned away or otherwise obscured are fraught but surprisingly playful. If the mysteries hinted at in her films are less immediately intriguing, it’s only because they often flirt with the conventions of romantic or historical melodrama. Always going her own way, Simpson remains a model for artists who want their audience to think as freely as they do.

1 comment:

Patricia said...

Good for people to know.