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Megan Mette's photographs at Unity Church of Practical Christianity

Untitled work by Megan Metté
Untitled work by Megan Metté


Two dozen or so large-format photographs by Megan Metté are currently on view at the Unity Church of Practical Christianity on Delaware Avenue.

Minimalist works depicting ambiguous interior architectural spaces. Strange, mysterious, partly in their banality. Angles of intersection of wall and ceiling planes. Attic spaces, typically, but without the typical attic clutter. Stairways and passageways that we can’t see where they lead. Architectural features we see in part and from an odd angle. And often notably diffuse lighting. Limpid, sometimes to excess, so as in critical situations to obscure more than clarify. Or sometimes insufficient light. More dark than light. Pictures that by and large conceal more than reveal. Pose questions more than provide answers. And are very beautiful, visually and in terms of content, their enigmatic and evocative subject matter.

Several depict portals into the unknown. One of them like something between a crawl space and an air shaft, a tunnel into darkness, a cave entrance, gradually narrowing, so menacing, but inviting to the foolhardy. Maybe a trap. Maybe the burrow into Alice’s Wonderland. Drink me.

Sometimes abstract images morph into figurative, as in one iconic instance in which a wedge-form distinction between wall planes—for whatever structural reason, a secondary plane emerges outward from the matrix vertical plane—translates as an imperative bolt of lightning from a Classical world god or cartoon world hero—reminiscent of the Charles Clough and Robert Longo lightning bolt discovered one morning affixed to the foundation stone wall around the Albright-Knox Art Gallery—that continues as real world lightning in a jagged crack in the wall plaster, grounding quietly into the baseboard.

Another photo of an architectural interior comprises three areal segments in varying shades of gray to off-white, one of which may be a window into a further interior, or may be a painting resembling a window. The diffused light in general but in particular in the inner window portion making it hard to tell. You look at this piece and ask yourself, “Where have I seen such a thing before?” Not the same thing, but the same effect, and effected by the same means. And then it comes to you: Vermeer.

What is it we love about Vermeer? Well, many things. But first and foremost, I think, the diffused light. Almost palpable light. Light that is both medium and subject matter. One and the same as the domestic interior subject matter. And medium for the subject matter people and things. The pitchers, pots, maps on the wall.

And the essential cleanliness, simplicity, austerity, of the subject matter interiors, and people and things. The kind of spiritual minimalism.

A closing reception to the exhibit is scheduled for Friday, February 21, 7-10pm, featuring performance by the new music collective Wooden Cities, in a program described in a press notice as comprising “spatially oriented works” intended to “complement and engage with the photos.”

In what sense spatially oriented? A spokesman for the collective said—for one thing—the musicians would be positioned and moving around the gallery/performance space rather than grouped as an ensemble, so as to be interspersed among and interactive with the audience, which would likely also be moving around the space, viewing the photos.

Also, one program piece is a dance, composed by collective member and vocalist Esin Gündüz for dancer/choreographer Melanie Aceto, with vocal accompaniment by both women.

Another is Italian modernist composer Luciano Berio’s Sequenza for solo oboe, performed by collective member oboist Megan Kyle. In addition to the oboe part, the work includes a single drone note that is often played offstage on a single instrument. In this case, it will be played by the entire rest of the ensemble—sometimes by the full ensemble, sometimes by passing the drone note back and forth between various instruments or instrument combinations, positioned around the performance space again, among the milling audience.

Also on the program, a “space” composition by collective member Nathan Heidelberger, entitled Descriptions of the Moon.

The photographs will remain on display, however, through February 27.

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