Ephemeral Infrastructures by Lucy Denegre at The Frame Gallery has a certain lightness. In the center of the room stands a delicate chicken wire house draped with an airy fabric, printed rust-colored with cement-like textures. On either side, the same type of texture is displayed on delicate white fabric. All around The Frame are photographs and prints taken during the artist’s time abroad. The photos and prints of urban spaces, holes in walls, and construction sites appear strangely delicate in this body of work. The show requires time to process; there’s no text accompanying the work and the narrative is intentionally quiet. The narratives are understated, unfolding slowly to the viewer.
At first glance, there’s this meditative quality to exploring this unspecified place — the repetition of colors, textures, and form in both the prints and photographs throughout the exhibition builds a specific language, which pulls the viewer in further to examine each work. Photography and printmaking are mediums that hold significance in the work because, in a show focusing on the ephemeral and permanent, they have the potential to be consumed quickly, like the way we scroll through Instagram or Facebook. Yet, this work is able to ask the viewer to pause and return to decipher the narrative as if in a conversation. The photos act as documentation of the world, the prints as reinterpretation and reflection.
Denegre has crafted the language of the show to be beautiful in its simplicity and complexity. As the posters plainly state, these are all photos that contain some sort of a wall or container. They observe these boundaries we set up to contain our own life and world, and how they outlive any one person’s story or influence.
The photo series is about development, stagnation, and decay. They tell a story of wandering through a city looking for these small hints of past and future human life. These study of walls, boundaries, containers, and sectioning off in cities contain nuances and beauty that leave you with something gentle and expansive to sit with.
The degradation of these boundaries is a theme that was particularly well explored. The wall of prints abstracting a chain link fence, with greenery woven into it backdropping the drying potted plant, set this precedent for delicate boundaries that exist as temporary constructs. Plastic bags, wire fences, and hanging fabric serve as these walls that, although they do not permanently section off the world, create recognizable division. Several of the photographs depicted worn down walls with holes that allowed the
viewer to cross boundaries. These photos were beautiful in framing this passage of time narrative, hints of human activity and the expansiveness of the world in unremarkable settings. The push and pull of human development and nature play are central to the central theme of fragile boundaries. Material and environment in these quiet moments become this almost spiritual observation about our world at large.
Art that is gentle in its narrative, that sits with the complex and doesn’t try to offer a clear narrative, can be made extremely powerful through modes of photography and print. Successful photo narratives work like this — the viewer piecing apart the themes, trying to find the intention behind the work like a puzzle. Extended explanation and too many words can even overshadow the nuance of such work. In this way, the artist asks us to reflect on our world and see it the way they do, in its beauty and sadness. It is a beautiful form of human interaction that often gets forgotten with the expectation for art to be sensational and loud. Denegre’s work felt comforting, in its expertly crafted narrative and complexity of content. This show is up until Oct. 29 — if you have a few moments in your week, this is a wonderful place to go to slow down and take in the vastness of the world in its permanence and transience.