Laura Letinsky withdraws to a further remove | Art Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Laura Letinsky withdraws to a further remove

The Chicago photographer shows prints of collaged images in "Ill Form and Void Full"



Laura Letinsky's interests are homebound. In 2000 she released Venus Inferred, a book of photographs (with an essay and interview by fellow University of Chicago professor Lauren Berlant) capturing heterosexual couples in moments of private intimacy. The emphasis on domesticity endured through the following decade, but the people didn't. In images such as those Letinsky contributed to "Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art," which ran this year at the Smart Museum of Art, dirty dishes and half-eaten food appear scattered on an abandoned table—remnants functioning as evidence of absence.

Prints on display now in "Ill Form and Void Full" at the Valerie Carberry Gallery betray an even starker remove. This newer work transplants the dinner table to a different plane. The exquisitely wrought still lifes have been replaced by cut-out pictures of food, wine goblets, and flowers, organized into sparse tableaux and photographed against an empty background. The arrangements are subtle enough to reward close examination. And there are even cut-outs of cut-outs, as when Letinsky introduces a piece of paper from which something resembling a vase has been excised. Absence continues to haunt her work.

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