The Path of a Free Object

Shotgun Review

The Path of a Free Object

By Danica Willard Sachs September 25, 2014

Situated between photography and sculpture, Kate Bonner’s work in The Path of a Free Object defies easy explanation. Neither the minimal sculptural mounts nor the haphazard photographs are compelling as individual objects. Rather, the magic in this compact show lies in the unexpected combination of the two: Bonner’s point-and-shoot photographic aesthetic at odds with the linearity and rigidity of the colorful sculptural mounts.

In An intervening object (2014), a small rectangular piece of wood and a cylindrical dowel are affixed near the bottom of a twelve-inch-square wooden panel, all painted sky blue. Slipped under the dowel, a photograph hangs precariously askew. The rather uninteresting photograph depicts a cluster of trees with a large graffiti-covered rock in the foreground. Dangling bent and aslant, the photograph eludes the viewer as it tries to escape its solid wooden constraint.

In Reference frame (2014), another twelve-inch-square panel, this time painted red, echoes a frame: a square area about the size of a Polaroid photograph has been removed from the center. However, instead of using the object as a frame, Bonner applied a fragment of a photograph of a red house directly to the surface of the panel. The image perfectly frames the empty center. The result is telescopic: the viewer’s attention is drawn past the red mount to the photograph and past the photograph to the blank wall behind the object. As in An intervening object, here the content of the photographic image is evasive as Bonner diverts our attention to the bare wall. 

Cleverly installed in small groups, and with a limited palette of blue, orange, peach, white, and red, the works throughout the exhibition focus not on the content of the photographs but instead on the varied ways that the images evade their supports. Bonner’s work revels in the tension between the fleeting nature of the image and the obdurate, uniform mass of the material that presents it.

Kate Bonner: The Path of a Free Object is on view at Et al., in

San Francisco

, through September 19, 2014.


  1. Full Disclosure: Et al. is run by Jackie Im, Associate Editor at Art Practical, and Aaron Harbour, an occasional contributor to Art Practical.

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