At MoMA, Indrė Šerpytytė Points Out Torture Sites

THE DAILY PIC: The Lithuanian artist records Soviet history, and complicates it.



THE DAILY PIC (#1473): For a few decades now, a lot of serious photography has been less about style than about ostension – the simple desire to point out certain things in the world. The show called “Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015,” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, includes a project by the Lithuanian artist Indrė Šerpytytė that complicates that story – as many younger artists are now keen on doing.

Šerpytytė’s project is very much about pointing out certain things, in this case, the buildings in Lithuania where interrogations took place under Soviet rule. But it also insists that translation is often involved whenever images pretend to ostend. Records, that is, can also be memories, with all their potential for error and interpretation.

Šerpytytė first commemorated the torture sites in casual photos stuck into notebooks, to almost forensic effect. Then she got an artisan to render the photographed structures as traditional wooden carvings (see below) translating the original snapshots into a kind of folk memory. Finally, Šerpytytė took elegant black-and-white photos of the carvings, giving them the cultural cachet of elevated fine art.

Fact became folk became fine: Even when we point at the world, there can be many kinds of fingers involved.



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