Melanie Schiff & Sterling Ruby


Kavi Gupta Gallery Berlin is proud to present an exhibition of two video works, Melanie Schiff’s “Perfect Square” (2006) and Sterling Ruby’s “Dihedral” (2006).

Shot during a residency in Florida, Schiff’s “Perfect Square” (2006) uses marsh pools formerly explored by ecologist Jacques Cousteau as the setting for the artist’s elegant idea of swimming in a perfect square. Shot upwards from the bottom of the pool, the work is a rhythmic meditation on the relationship between nature and the basic shapes that are held ideally in the human mind.

In Sterling Ruby’s “Dihedral” (2006), plumes of liquid color slowly diffuse and absorb each other. A narrator with an ambiguous voice provides the work’s audio as he reads Roger Callois’ “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia”, a text originally published in 1935 in the Surrealist publication, Minotaure. The text references mimicry, camouflage, and metamorphosis – to discuss how an organism distinguishes itself physically and psychologically from its surroundings.

Melanie Schiff (b. 1977 in Chicago) lives and works in Los Angeles. In addition to her inclusion in 2008 Whitney Biennial, Schiff’s work has also been recently exhibited at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Chicago, P.S.1 MOMA in New York, and Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, Colorado. Other group exhibitions include Shadows Don’t Cast Shadows at Meyer Riegger in Karlsruhe, Germany, Autonomy at Foxy Production in New York City, and Too Strong To Stop, Too Sweet To Lose at Cohan & Leslie in New York City. This past fall Schiff presented her third solo exhibition with Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago; it was entitled The Mirror.

Sterling Ruby (b. 1972 in Bitburg, Germany) lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include 2TRAPS, Pace Wildenstein Gallery, New York, Sterling Ruby/Robert Mapplethorpe, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels and The Masturbators, Foxy Production, New York. His recent group exhibitions include New Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Beaufort 03, Art by the Sea, Ostend, Belgium, New York Minute, Depart Foundation, Macro Future Museum, Rome, Italy and the Moscow Biennial. In Germany, Sterling Ruby is represented by Sprüth Magers, Berlin.

Kavi Gupta

Melanie Schiff

Kavi Gupta Gallery is pleased to present a new series of photographs by Los Angeles-based artist Melanie Schiff. Her latest exhibition titled The Mirror presents the artist’s first solo exhibition in Chicago since her inclusion in the 2008 Whitney Biennial.

Melanie Schiff has become known for her constructed narrative photographs that are imbued with a poetic use of light to explore ideas of spirituality as well as personal and collective experience. Schiff’s previous photographs spanned classic genres of portraiture, still life and performance as they found their footing within multiple histories of photography. Often subtle references to youth culture and popular music came to the surface and objects like empty beer bottles, CD cases, and record covers became minimal forms which were arranged and manipulated placing them within a mystical happening.

The photographs that make up The Mirror maintain this spiritual aura that enveloped the previous work along with a personal anthropological study of ones’ surroundings but now from a more solitary perspective. An almost science fiction type quality is evoked by the lack of the figure and the alien landscape that ranges from a natural environment to depictions of manmade architecture. The photograph titled Mastodon shows a large field in which an odd fallen or uprooted tree eerily resembles the petrified body of this extinct mammal. Several photographs depict long corridors, canals and drain pipes covered in graffiti that lead to a white light or a geometric shape heading into another anonymous structure. The repetition of this motif references a narrative that involves a birthing story that may be a human birth, the beginning of the world or a new world altogether.

The mirror provides a personal reflection, albeit distorted, a semi-truth. This filter parallels that of the camera as a skewed lens. What can be contextualized by its surroundings is edited and disjointed by the act of cropping and matting. The photograph Cave Painting depicts a closed in view of a river wall. Scuffs, cracks, residue and debris create a minimal abstracted image reminiscent of a primitive painting. These marks, along with the recurrence of graffiti and the repetition of circles and triangles become symbols that feel as though they have been left for us to decipher.

Melanie Schiff (b. 1977) lives and works in Los Angeles. Upcoming museum exhibitions include P.S. 1 MOMA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago,  Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Seattle Museum of Art. Schiff has also exhibited at Aspen Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.


Kavi Gupta