reviews > Kansas City, MO

4/15/10 1:10 PM

The Surrealists used to troll the flea markets of Paris looking for the marvelous to appear amid tables of out-of-fashion knick knacks and other old junk. And find it they did—or rather, as André Breton would put it, sometimes it found them. Shoe spoons and African masks and other doodads attracted them with the aura of another time, for being out of sync with the capitalist whirlwind of the day, for speaking strangely of things they were never meant to speak of. In her series Minutes, photographer Tina West has channeled this spirit and romanticized it, arranging dead bugs and sprung springs, old clocks and cracked eggs, worn cigar boxes and rusty butterfly bolts in delicate, spare assemblages that transform these outmoded objects into curiously charming tableaux. With titles that speak of memory and time, dreams and balance, and pictures that trade in the aura of sepia and other retro tones, West has created images that trade the radicality of Surrealism’s collage aesthetic for one that is, although more docile, none the less poetic for it. Here, a wishbone balanced on a metal spool swings in one photograph like a metronome, in another like a human being—and that is an object lesson for any day, including ours.

—Lori Waxman