Melanie Schiff


Schiff's photographs revel in an assertion of the physicality of objects. Isolated from their use value, items are connected by an attention to shape and texture that nods to the tradition of still life painting. Loaves of bread appear nestled into velvet blankets, their surfaces unexpectedly echoing one another; shattered panes of glass catch the sunlight and glow like spider webs; a woman's lactating breast takes on a pictorial meticulousness that foregrounds its organic geometries. Schiff's work creates a position of contemplative viewership that requires slow looking. Installed at staggered heights, the exhibition produces an almost melodic movement for the eye as it drifts between images. While the works call for a meditative reading, they remain heavily grounded in the photographic medium. Schiff underscores their mode of production through her use of multiple exposures and light leaks, by allowing the camera strap to enter the frame, and, in some cases, by framing photographs under colored photographic gels. Further, the primacy of light in Schiff's work is an unmistakably photographic preoccupation. Whether by daylight, candle light, or the camera's artificial flash, Schiff unifies a variety of photographic subjects under a similar heavenly clarity, elevating them from their immediate associations to a plane of transcendance. Melanie Schiff (USA, b. 1977 in Chicago, IL) received her BFA from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and her MFA from University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work has been exhibited at venues including MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN; Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, FR; Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe, DE; and Foxy Production, New York, NY. Schiff participated in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.