Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ryn Wilson at UNO St. Claude; Sophie Lvoff at Tulane/Newcomb's Carroll Gallery

Once, when we were young, we may have dreamed that our grown up lives would be like movies, epic adventures where we were the stars and wrote the script instead of our mostly uncool parents. Only as adults did we learn that life is a collaboration of luck, intention and circumstance even if our dreams remained as cinematic as ever. Walker Percy explored this theme in his novel, The Moviegoer, and now Ryn Wilson offers her own take on it in this Cinematrope show, in which she often stars and writes the script, yet mostly remains a creature of context. Especially emblematic is Traces, top, a photograph of a woman toting a vintage valise into a foggy forest in a dreamlike scene that recalls Francoise Truffaut's flair for pastoral surreality. Here the setting dominates an image that evokes a deeply psychological sense of exile. Similar subtleties are heightened in series of elegantly oblique diptychs, but Hitchcock sets the tone in The Fallen II, where a young woman in a short schoolgirl dress sprawls lifelessly at the bottom of a winding staircase. Wilson assumes a more personal role in a video of herself running alongside Cary Grant in the airplane scene in Hitchcock's North by Northwest, or peering in windows in Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve, but most of her work effectively taps the psychic reservoirs of cinematic myth we carry around inside us.

In Sophie Lvoff's recent photography show at the Carroll Gallery the city itself was the star. Here shadows of ironwork on cemetery walls mimic the secret iconography of voodoo hexagrams even as cat's claw creepers scale the walls of a desolate hardware store and ghostly figures in outlandish costumes appear trapped behind fogged plate glass shop windows. Lvoff's understated images effectively evoke the intimate surprises that lurk, mostly unnoticed, around every corner: the secret lives of inanimate places and objects. ~D. Eric Bookhardt

Cinematrope and Cinematic Realms: Photographs and Mixed Media by Ryn Wilson, Weekends through April 6, UNO St. Claude Gallery, 2429 St. Claude Ave., 280-6493;  Hells Bells, Sulfur, Honey: Photographs by Sophie Lvoff, March 6--15, Carroll Gallery, Tulane, 314-2228