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Hirsch Perlman: Photographs

Art New England, Dec/Jan 2007 


Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Picture Gallery
Cornish, New Hampshire
July 8 - September 4, 2006

By Craig Stockwell

Hirsch Perlman is the 2005 Memorial Fellow at Saint-Gaudens and thus this exhibition. In this case the work presented, in two rooms, is not sculptural objects but pinhole photographs of sculptural moments. There is a keen sculptural instinct exhibited in the installation and hanging of these images. There are two series; in one room are images of something happening on a rooftop in a place that looks like a city in the Southwest. In another room, all on one wall squeezed together, are images of an amorphous and glistening ball with stem that most resembles, in many images, a mushroom cloud. The photographs are large format but of differing sizes, the one bothersome note in the exhibit was the wrinkled prints. It takes a while to read this installation, one older couple walked in and he said, “very monotonous,” and they walked out. I stayed and read and looked, and Perlman’s world of inquiry opened up for me into a meditation on artistic enterprise, the apocalypse and military (mis)effort. The rooftop images show a night-time attempt to launch a very homemade rocket/weapon seemingly made out of very rickety materials. Or at least this rocket is shown apparently trying to move, to launch, to make a noise. It doesn’t seem to make it and thus the meditation on artistic enterprise as well as military hubris. Meanwhile a figure (the
artist?) appears to sit, lost in reading, in an aged armchair from a different era. We are not directed but we are led to speculate, as we are with the loveliness of the amorphous cloud-like objects photographed in the second room. My meditation concerned futility, apocalypse, effort and provisionality. The shaky nature of the sculptural constructions and the pinhole method of capturing their presence leads to a tentative sense of uncertainly feeling of one’s way towards meaning.