"Orders of Possibility" at Form + Content

"Orders of Possibility" at Form + Content
Courtesy Form + Content

In "Orders of Possibility," now on view at Form + Content Gallery, three artists -- Paula McCartney, Lex Thompson, and Sonja Thomsen -- mingle with truth and fiction in a series of photographs and mixed-media works. Curated by Kenneth Steinbach, who has included an excerpt, titled "The Unabridged Works of Laszlo Toth," from his collection of memoir-based short stories, the exhibition teases out what is real from what isn't in a way that is sometimes playful and sometimes provocative.

summer from the Hole Series by Sonja Thomsen 
summer from the Hole Series by Sonja Thomsen 

McCartney's work in the show is especially intriguing. As her subject she takes the bird aviaries of the Bronx Zoo, which combine real-life foliage and birds with painted backdrops and other man-made items, resulting in a fantastical hybrid that is both real and not real. 

McCartney's lens captures the misty ethereal quality of these alternative worlds with incredible detail and contrast. In addition to the photography, McCartney has assembled on the back wall of the gallery a photo installation, called As If Everything You Imagined Were True, which pairs the diorama photographs with images of  birds in flight. The unframed shots of birds flying in the air demonstrate freedom in comparison to the contained and contrived Bronx Zoo images. 

Sonja Thomsen's Hole Series carries a similar fantastical element. Here, a black-oil filled hole disrupts serene images of the ground during different seasons. The black hole can be seen amidst snow and various stages of grass throughout the year. The photographs provide  no explanation as to how this mysterious hole came to be at this particular spot, but forces the viewer to imagine its back story.  

Work by Lex Thompson
Work by Lex Thompson

On the opposite wall in the gallery, Thomsen shows Petroleum, six panels of prints that capture the oozing quality of simmering oil. Thomsen's work draws from the natural world, but in such a way that makes it seem supernatural and almost alien. 

Finally, Lex Thompson's photographs of the bizarre Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico, a tourist destination built out of a majestic cave, juxtaposes the kitschy museum with the awesome natural phenomenon of the cave, celebrating both. There are some great photographs of the lobby and elevator area being inundated with stalagmites, just as other photographs capture the more purely natural parts of the cave. A little less interesting are Thompson's drawings based on the cave -- they are so light you can barely see them. 


"Orders of Possibility"
Through January 18, 2014
Form + Content Gallery
210 Second St. N., Minneapolis
The gallery is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. 
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Form + Content Gallery

210 N. 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401


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