Christine Elfman at Gallery Wendi Norris
Christine Elfman is a practitioner and teacher of photography, and her technical rigor is evident: images and diptychs convey both the essential and the ephemeral. In Looking Back, the play of light/shadow, background/foreground, and immediacy/mystery converge into a harmonious, if unsettling, whole. Paired with an anthotype of a Grecian head, the piece is both portrait and diptych: the missing body of one and the partially covered face of the other encourages us to construct a memory or a narrative. The Love Letters diptych is similarly arresting in its austerity and open-endedness: do the unanswered letters represent the finite or infinite? As with Looking Back, and the other well-crafted pieces, an element of passing or lost time fills gaps but also leaves questions unanswered.
Fix & Fade feels timely: a respite from contemporary life and its virtual realities and surfeit of information. It is a show that invites contemplation, stimulates your sense of humor, and asks to be considered. The anthotypes and silver gelatin prints, presented individually and in diptychs, convey serenity, elegance, and a certain aesthetic and material solidity – more fixed than faded, though she plays with decomposition and impermanence.
Christine Elfman, Fix & Fade, Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco, through 2 August 2014.