Looking at Rachel Scheinfeldt’s black-and-white photographs, you could be forgiven for not knowing what era you were in. Her best pictures are timelessly modern, focused on pure form as found in the environment: a stepped shadow cast against a wall, a triangular one bound into a corner. Those are from her “Urban Formalism” series. In “Urban Abstraction,” she uses double exposure to generate complicated, surrealistic compositions of pattern and shape by overlaying facades, fencing, shadows and other aspects of the built city. All of this could be done, more or less convincingly, using iPhone apps, but Scheinfeldt does not, sticking with film and chemical baths, enlargers, photo sensitive paper, and drying time. The method is old school, as is the lost-wax casting technique she employs to create bronze sculptures whose irregular slabs could have been lifted directly from the found shadows in her photographs. It might not work in hyper-contemporary cities like Beijing or Dubai, but her methods still feel right for a city like Philadelphia—or New York or Chicago, for the matter—cities that came of age in the 20th century, alongside modernist tools and aesthetics.
—Lori Waxman 10/14/2023 5:10 PM