Anna Gaskell, Untitled (turns Gravity) #1, 2010, archival pigment print on aluminum, 35 x 57 inches © Anna Gaskell, all images via Yvon Lambert.
Yvon Lambert, New York, is currently showing their second solo exhibition of the work of Anna Gaskell. Known for her uneasy, often menacing photographs of young and pubescent girls in ambiguous narratives, this exhibition marks a slight imagistic departure. Her earlier works referenced Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and allusions to the realms of fairy tale and cinema, but are replaced by scenes that are more grounded, casting them in an ominousness potentially intensified by their comparative realism.
More text and images after the jump…
Anna Gaskell, Untitled (turns Gravity) #3, 2010, archival pigment print on aluminum, 38 x 57 inches © Anna Gaskell.
Gaskell’s youths never appear directly in flagrante, but they are not harmless. Her masterful, cinematic staging imposes on the viewer’s darker assumptions, as images depict boys crouching in the snow, in between push and pull, and domination and support. Demonstrative of no wrongdoing, they nevertheless engender a thought process for which the viewer must actively invent scenarios of innocence, rather than the everyday sensationalism of other peoples’ malfeasances. Complicated by the fact that the children pictured are all in grass and nature—indicating a position of leisure, then, for their tended-to manner, hard-bottomed shoes and waistcoats—these images offer a lens onto the perception of visual cues and our pursuant appraisal of one another, ineluctably, instant by instant.
The photographs themselves are large and, in the gallery space, inescapable. They are hung, not at standardized gallery height, but each with extreme care for the scene’s positioning, in terms of an approaching viewer.
The points of focus draw the viewer to an intimate distance, which then places his or her gaze uncomfortably close, thus implicating him or her in the disquieting scene. Untitled (turns Gravity) #7 has the viewer—from a line of sight of one shorter than an average adult—edging toward the rear of a child on all fours, while Untitled (turns Gravity) #2 forces the viewer to stand the same, confusing queue with faceless youths extending into the distance, with no explanation as to where or why it begins or ends.
Anna Gaskell, born in Des Moines, Iowa, 1969, earned a B.F.A. from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1992 and an M.F.A from the Yale University School of Art in 1995. She has shown solo exhibitions at the Box at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, Castello di Rivoli in Turino, Italy, and the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado, among others. Her works are held in the permanent collections of institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Museum Ludwig, Köln, Germany, and the Deste Foundation, Athens.
– Jordana Swan