Shifting the Reality Plane, at William Busta Projects

Lori Kella, Hidey Hole Willow Triptych, 2023.

Framed works of art can be imagined as windows. In art history and criticism, that’s a time-worn perception. Marcel Duchamp turned the idea inside out in his epic Étant donnés, a work of art that presents as a door with peepholes. Looking through the peepholes, the viewer experiences an illuminating, erotic world. Then you wonder what is being illuminated—the tableau you see through the door or, if you looked through from the inside, a pair of unsettled eyes. However, what the audience sees is like a stage set, and if you were on the other side, you would not see a door but an almost haphazard construction. We experience something like this when we watch movies—we are always imagining the world of the fiction extending beyond the frame in space and time. Actually, what we see is all there is.

Lori Kella’s works are constructions within constructions. She presents planes of reality that perform the magic trick of extending beyond the limits of our vision. She prints from photographs, then bends and folds and glues images from the picture plane to create a dimensional set. She photographs and transforms the dimensional again into a plane, into an image that she offers to us.

Through the years, her bodies of work have continually shifted the reality plane. Most years what we see can fool the eye at first glimpse, as if what we see is a simple photograph of the empirical world; some years we see what are obvious fantasies, almost like constructed museum exhibits, demonstrating concepts with cross-sections of earth or water; and then, most recently, what we see are fragmented and overlapped images, understanding different dimensions at the same time.

The work in this exhibition owes something to the recent exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art, China’s Southern Paradise: Treasures from the Lower Yangzi Delta. Kella was impressed by how narratives extended, about how the eye is led to focus upon what is important by floating image in space, like the experience of dreams. Works in Kella’s exhibition cascade—almost like pages of a flip book—animating.

It is a fragile, delicate world that we live in, which we are recreating in our image.

15517 Waterloo Road, Suites 2 and 4
Cleveland, Ohio 44110
Open noon-5pm Thursday, Friday & Saturday during scheduled exhibitions, and by appointment.


Lori Kella, May 3–June 8

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