Article by A.H. McGavin in Berlin; Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2015
Miriam Böhm — Installation view WENTRUP, Berlin, 2015; Courtesy the artist and WENTRUP, Berlin. Photo: Trevor Good.
Through a series of collaged photographs and sculptures, Böhm exposes the tension between reality and perception, casting doubt onto the assumed epistemic privilege of analog photography and rendering the paradigm of digital-versus-analog obsolete. Böhm’s previous photographs consisted of intricately folded paper and cardboard strategically collaged to give a false and disjointed feeling of spatial expansion. The three photo series displayed – Equally, Laying and Still – continue in this vein, but Böhm’s methods and medium have become increasingly obscured.
Miriam Böhm – “Still I – II” (2014), 100 x 68 cm / 39 1/3 x 26 3/4 in, Ditone-Print; Courtesy the artist and WENTRUP, Berlin. Photo: Trevor Good.
On the surface, Böhm’s photographs appear to be fairly straightforward depictions of intersecting geometrical forms, but their intricacy and meticulousness become apparent upon closer inspection. This is best embodied in the flat, geometric shapes of her Still series. In ‘Still’ I and II, white squares and rectangles are reproduced in overlapped layers of varying opacities. The rectangles are so pared-down and precise that they initially read as a painting or silkscreen print, and it seems impossible that such ethereal forms could have been constructed by human hands. The Equally series is similarly confounding, with geometric forms that intersect and overlap to create impossible shapes. In ‘Still’ I, II and III a series of black and white rectangles float across their neutral backgrounds, tilting and overlapping as if they were strung together by wire. Throughout these three series there are small hints revealing the artist’s process, but there is no way to completely resolve lingering questions about their production. In many ways, this ambiguity in their interpretation mimics the distress of visually interpreting an altered digital photograph.
Miriam Böhm- “Equally I – V” (2015), 66 x 83 cm / 26 x 32 2/3 in, C-print; Courtesy the artist and WENTRUP, Berlin. Photo: Trevor Good.
Mutual, the sculpture series, is especially affecting. Each sculpture consists of intersecting glass panes inlaid with wooden rectangles. These static forms appear to fold and move as the viewer crosses through the room, alternately reading as a flat and and as three-dimensional, appearing as though they are continuously moving of their own volition. Böhm’s sculptures have successfully translated her two-dimensional photographs to the three-dimensional world.
ON AT exposes photography’s role in the philosophical tug between reality and perception. The subjectivity of perception is an uneasy reality, tempered for many by the idea that there exists an automatic process capable of capturing the world in perfect detail. Böhm’s work suggests photography has never been as objective as it has been credited for, and the questions we ask – Analog or digital? Original or edited? – say far more about our ideas of reality than photography shows us.
Miriam Böhm “Laying I – III” (2015), 110 x 73 cm / 43 1/3 x 28 3/4 in, C-print; Courtesy the artist and WENTRUP, Berlin. Photo: Trevor Good.
A.H. McGavin is a writer based in Berlin, where she spends most of her free time exploring the city and conducting culinary experiments.