CHRIS CURRERI at Gallery 44 (401 Richmond West, # 120), to April 15. 416-979-3941. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Chris Curreri is known for en hancing archival photo prints with needle and thread, making lasting impressions with his intricate technique. His embroidered photos draw attention to the gulf between the instant the camera freezes and the life of the image thereafter.
In Circa 1960, Curreri leaves the thread behind and ventures into film, with exquisite results. He punctures an old landscape photo that we only see from the back, displayed in a pristine white frame, the tiny pinholes producing arching lines.
The photo itself serves as an artifact of the projected 16mm film loop in which it comes to life as a monochrome cross between Hasbro's Lite-Brite and an ancient Chinese shadow play. Enlarged in the six-minute silent loop, the holes in the photo trace the lines and shapes of gently rolling hills, mutating in mesmerizing ways while a single light source is manipulated. Subtle changes in the light hint at night and day but never produce more than a surreal mixture of the two.
The light emerges from behind the photo through the holes, brightening the sky until you can see the clouds in the actual image above the dark, twinkling hills. Then it fades and returns to cast little shadows that grow under the pinprick bumps like hundreds of trees and shrubs, before the whole cycle starts anew.
As the projector whirrs, the past reveals itself as always hidden, a fantastical illusion produced not by our memories but by the holes therein.