Hirsch Perlman’s artwork investigates the subjective and personal significance of photographs in relation to their formal and architectural setting. Early works combined photographs with such objects as a rolling library ladder, a set of steps, a hand railing, or an audio headset; viewing these photographs required involvement with their respective objects—climbing the ladder, negotiating the railing, or wearing the headset.
Perlman’s most recent work involves the photographic re-presentation of explanatory architectural phrases and images. These words and pictures are selected by Perlman from architectural books by Adolph Loos, Mies Van der Rohe, le Corbusier, and Wittgenstein. By rephotographing these fragments of information and placing them in the gallery, Perlman challenges their original significance by changing their location, or context. In a new setting, removed from their specific and supportive book-origins, these images and phrases function differently; their reductivist and ridged Modernist meanings are made flexible through their relocation. The Renaissance Society’s unique architectural setting will be a provocative sounding board for Perlman’s subtle and challenging photographic ruminations.
A similar reassessment occurs in the artist’s color photographs. These mundane snapshots of such well-known institutional architecture as the Monadnock Building, IIT’s Crown Hall, and the Chicago Historical Society mimic the illustrative and “official” pictures normally associated with these buildings. Perlman recognizes the historical significance of these buildings and attempts to make “good” photographs of them. Nonetheless, his odd angles, irregular lighting, and hazy focusing exaggerate the significance of the buildings’ surroundings and marginalize the buildings themselves.
Perlman will also physically alter The Renaissance Society’s space by designing and installing walls, moldings, doors and door latches. These architectural necessities and foils will address the unique physical characteristics of the Renaissance Society space. Less directly, they will refer to notions of geometric regularity and rigidity, our human interaction with architectural structures, and the issues of clarity, representation, and design which are contained and questioned in the artist’s photographs.