Published: November 6, 2012



In a remarkable project that fuses Ripley’s Believe It or Not with hardcore existentialism, Lena Herzog undertakes an extensive black-and-white photographic series in which she documents strange and amazing human creations such as the curiosities that Europeans used to put on display in cabinets made for that purpose (“Lost Souls” series), a symphony orchestra composed of mouse skeletons (“Rhapsody in Death”), and the wind-powered “beach animals” constructed by Theo Jansen that roam around the shoreline in the Netherlands (“Deus ex Machina”). The aesthetic category of the grotesque was made for Herzog, and she deploys it in a deadpan manner with forays into blurry pictorialism—whatever suits her aim of visualizing the insight that “our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of night.” We might not be pleased with what the spark of consciousness illuminates, like infant Siamese twins—preserved for scores of years—clutching each other in an endless sleep. Herzog does not let us gawk as we might at a freak show; it is self-recognition that she’s after and she knows how to get it. (Michael Weinstein)

Through December 31 at Maya Polsky Gallery, 215 West Superior