WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — T he Clark Art Institute is featuring a new year-long exhibition highlighting the work of contemporary artist Erin Shirreff (Canadian, b. 1975). Erin Shirreff: Remainders presents photographs, prints, and video that examine Shirreff’s fascination with the mythmaking behind art history through a practice that spans analog and digital media, two and three dimensions, and still and moving images. The free exhibition is on view in public spaces in the Lower Clark Center and the Reading Room of the Manton Research Center through January 2, 2022.
The exhibition features a selection of photographs from Erin Shirreff’s ongoing series Figs., whose title refers to the way art history books are commonly illustrated (e.g., “See figure 1”). To make them, Shirreff constructs small objects from colored plaster that evoke modernist sculpture or even architecture; their scale is ambiguous. She then photographs the objects, slices, and recombines the images using editing software and prints them at large scale on a single sheet. Shirreff creases the prints down the center to resemble an open book, but the discontinuity of the images suggests missing pages. While each Fig. offers an incomplete picture, their textures and compositions also suggest new possibilities that might arise from reproduction. These objects are on view in the Reading Room of the Clark’s Manton Research Center, with the library stacks visible just beyond.
In the Lower Clark Center, visitors will encounter two large-format dye sublimation prints—photographs printed on cut pieces of aluminum arranged three dimensionally within a deep-set frame. In Bronze (Slivka, Burckhardt, Busch, Laocoön), Shirreff’s focus is on how sculpture can be transformed by the camera lens and printing process. The names listed in the title register multiple layers of source material: Shirreff’s starting point was a picture of a small bronze sculpture titled Laocöon, by the Abstract Expressionist artist David Slivka. The photograph was taken by the photographer Rudy Burckhardt, and Shirreff found it in a heavily discounted, or remaindered, sculpture anthology edited by art historian Julia Busch. Shirreff scanned and enlarged the image to such an extent that the grain of its halftone printing and the traces of the sculptor’s hand are more recognizable than the sculpture itself. She then printed it onto aluminum sheets, which she cut into various shapes and layered within a deep-set frame. What remains from these transformations is a collection of unexpected details that complicates our understanding of the original artwork.
The Clark has highlighted the works of contemporary artists through special exhibitions for more than forty years. The Shirreff exhibition marks the second year-long installation in the Clark’s public spaces that Wiesenberger has organized as part of an ongoing series. The first was Velo Revelo, an exhibition by Pia Camil (Mexican, b. 1980).
On March 10 at 12:30 p.m. (EST), Shirreff will join Wiesenberger in a live Zoom presentation to discuss her practice and the works on view at the Clark. Advance registration is required. Visit clarkart.edu/events for details.
Shirreff’s works are on view in public spaces at the Clark and may be viewed during open hours without an admission fee.
ABOUT THE CLARK
The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts.
For more information on these programs and more, visit clarkart.edu or call 413 458 2303.