Curator Eva Respini talks with Michele Abeles.
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Michele Abeles’s studio constructions combine common objects—wine bottles, terra-cotta pots, newspapers, and printed fabrics—with nude males. Abeles’s props are familiar and generic, even bland, with minimal symbolic or narrative associations. Her models, cast via Craigslist ads, are also positioned like props, often posed so their bodies are truncated by the frame. Titles such as Red, Rock, Cigarettes, Newspaper, Body, Wood, Lycra, Bottle, which inventory the objects in the photograph, further emphasize the pictures’ generic quality.

In Abeles’s photographs, space appears flattened, and scale and spatial relationships are often confusing. A lot of the trickery occurs in the camera or in the studio—for some pictures, the artist placed colored gels over Plexiglas in front of her lens to produce geometric and fragmented layers that mimic digital post-production manipulations. In 2012, responding to the way images are consumed in the media-saturated 21st century, Abeles began making photographs employing digital tools. These works refer to how we view images today: often on a computer screen, a flattened space cluttered with layered windows. #4 recalls the swipe mechanism on an iPad or iPhone, a cropped image on the left suggesting a picture in mid-swipe. In response to the endless recirculation of images in mass culture today, Abeles has used elements of her older photographs to make new work, as in Progressive Substitution Drills, in which a rock, printed fabric, and newspaper scrap from earlier photographs appear. In her work, Abeles layers and builds space, drawing attention to the space between things and, ultimately, the space between pictures.

Michele Abeles was born in 1977 in New York. She received a BA from Washington University in St. Louis in 1999 and an MFA from Yale University in 2007. Abeles lives and works in New York City.