My parent’s bathroom at the house I first lived in had a full-length mirror behind the sink, which also had a mirror. As soon as I was tall enough to see over the counter, I remember staring at an infinite number of my own reflections bouncing back and forth and I recall the frustration that I could never find where the reflections ended. This is the memory invoked when I saw Beth Campbell’s work for the first time.
Working in a variety of mediums: drawings, sculpture and what she calls “architectural interventions,” Campbell’s body of work toys with perception. Her Potential Future Based on Present Circumstances drawing series maps possible outcomes to present decisions. These were the first works I saw by Campbell and I recall thinking how brilliant, but impossible they were. Like me and my reflection in the mirror, Campbell was trying to make sense of the unrealistic and perhaps impractical idea that we can know what might have been. Their humor and neurosis seemed so quintessentially human to me that I became an instant lover of her work.
Potential Store Fronts, a 2007 Public Art Fund project, or Following Room, her 2007 Whitney Museum installation, consist of perfectly replicated set-ups mimicking reflection. The effect is disorienting and challenges a viewer’s sense of experience and expectation. Similarly, works like Stereo Table, 2012, or her ongoing Lamps series transform everyday, mundane objects into warped versions of reality. With them Campbell can bring to mind questions about the limits of our observation, awareness and even reality itself.
Earlier this summer Campbell’s work could be seen at Hotel Particulier in New York and she is just wrapping up a group show at Josee Bienvenu Gallery in New York. Be sure to watch for any of her upcoming projects or exhibitions as her installations are not to be missed.