Image above: © Gina Osterloh, Anonymous Front (Copy Flat), 2010 / courtesy of Higher Pictures
Higher Pictures is featuring the work of Los Angeles-based artist Gina Osterloh. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York. Osterloh’s interdisciplinary practice brings together photography, drawing, film, and performance to explore the resonances between the physical form and its representational imprint, trace, or stand-in. Her work is marked by a tremulous tension between the handmade and the camera-ready. Record, mimesis, and illusion flow into one another as Osterloh’s minimally described spaces, imperfectly drawn lines, and unlikely portraits exploit and upset the conventions of mechanical reproduction.
Images above: © Peru McCarra
A suite of photographs from the Copy Flat (2010) series feature Osterloh’s signature constructed set pieces. She builds three-walled rooms out of paper, paints every surface with a repetitive graphic pattern, and alternately fills the scene with flat cardboard cutouts of figures in silhouette. The silhouettes are themselves traced by the artist from the shadows of actual sitters; only shown from the torso or neck up, they nonetheless assert their personhood in different ways—some casting their own paper shadows and others turning their unpainted backs to the camera.
Osterloh’s Grid (2014) prints show wavering, hand-drawn gridlines on panels of paper that extend down a wall and onto the adjoining floor. Their scale, quivering energy, and uneasy translation of physical space give the distinct impression that the artist has just left the scene. That feeling is redoubled before the large-scale Drawing for the Camera (2014), in which the frame is filled with a freeform, meandering line drawing, again extending from wall to floor. Conflating the reproducibility and precision of photography with the unpredictable one-offs of sketching and performance, Osterloh pulls at the seams of photographic space.
Image above: © Gina Osterloh, Press and Erase #2, 2007 / courtesy of Higher Pictures
While every work holds the suggestion of Osterloh’s presence, we only see her in Press and Erase (2007) and Press and Outline (2014). In Press and Erase Osterloh is seemingly disappearing up and into a void painted on the wall of one of her makeshift paper rooms. The 16mm silent film Press and Outline shows Osterloh pressing into her own shadow and then gently tracing the outline of its silhouette. A pang of longing for the impossible—a cleaving of the self, a disembodied existence—is palpable as the two figures perform their intimate mirrored choreography.
Gina Osterloh (b. 1973) earned her BA from DePaul University in 1996 and her MFA from the University of California, Irvine in 2007. Recent solo exhibitions include Nothing To See Here There Never Was (2015) at Silverlens Gallery in Manila, Philippines; Press Erase Outline Slice Strike Make An X Prick! (2014) at François Ghebaly in Los Angeles; and Anonymous Front (2012) at the Yerba
Image above: © Gina Osterloh, Grid #2 (Nothing To See Here There Never Was), 2014 / courtesy of Higher Pictures
Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Osterloh’s work was also included in Fragments of an Unknowable Whole (2014) at the Urban Arts Space, the Ohio State University; and This Is Not America: Resistance, Protest and Poetics (2014) at the Arizona State University Art Museum. Group Dynamic, Osterloh’s first monograph, was published by LACE and distributed by RAM Publications in 2013. Osterloh teaches at California State University, Fullerton and Santa Ana College. She lives and works in Los Angeles.