Threshold: “For the last five years I have been making work that investigates the brick and mortar spaces of the contemporary art world as a kind of alternative landscape and psychic territory—a microcosmic framework from which to consider the trajectory of a 21st-century consumer society. As part of this broader inquiry, my series of photographs, Threshold, places the commercial gallery itself on display—rather than the art intended for our view.
First resembling the photographs made to document the installation of an exhibition, my large-scale color photographs show the gallery’s ubiquitous white walls removed of any paintings, photographs or sculpture; instead, the viewers— their bodies normally included to reference the scale of the artwork —stand as diminutive, expectant spectators, transfixed before an idealized, monumental space emptied of its display. Through this digital erasure my images identify the “white cube” as both spectacle and existential void, pointing to the aura and effect of its architecture as both an authoritative and sacred space. Peripheral details—the ghostly reflection of missing artwork appearing as a vestigial memory in polished concrete, the posture and dress of the viewers standing before sublime nothingness, the hovering presence of a surveillance camera staring back at us—take on new presence and significance. Echoing the figures portrayed in the image our presence as viewers implicates our own role in activating the art within. At the same time, reconfiguring the established order between art and commerce, the photographs present the context of art’s display as an aesthetic object in itself, and, as an image, a potential commodity available for acquisition.
We live in a world on the brink of change. While many art galleries have closed, migrated, downsized or gone virtual, others play out a Darwinian drama of manifest destiny—expanding the size of their spaces and the reach of their brands to multiple locations across the globe. “Threshold” undermines the assumption of a benign and neutral environment. The photographs foreground the gallery’s “white cube” as a kind of cultural ecosystem, making visible the often-unobserved influence of its architecture, and our own role as viewers in determining meaning and value.”
Cynthia Greig received a BFA in printmaking from Washington University (St. Louis, MO) an MA in art history and filmmaking, with a focus on the history of Dada performance, from the University of Iowa. Most recently, she received an MFA in Photography from the University of Michigan School of Art + Design (Ann Arbor, MI). Greig has exhibited widely in a number of solo and group exhibitions, including at the Stephen Bulger Gallery (Toronto, Canada); Buckham Gallery (Flint, MI); Bildkultur Galerie (Stuttgart, Germany); Witzenhausen Gallery (Amsterdam, The Netherlands); and Fred Torres Gallery (New York City), amongst others. Her work has been published in Contact Sheet Annual, the Los Angeles Times, Photography Quarterly, and Art Week, amongst others. Her work is also included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston; George Eastman House and International Museum of Photography and Film (Rochester, NY); Museum of Fine Art Houston; Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago); Light Work (Syracuse, NY); and Smith College Museum of Art (Northampton, MA), as well as other corporate and private collections. In 2015, she received the award of Visual Artist Fellowship from the Kresge Arts Foundation.