By Raymundo Muñoz

On display at Helikon Gallery for the month of photography is Renee Alpert and Douglas Kahn’s “Mission,” a striking collection of labyrinthine photocollage that toys with your expectations. Based on photos taken at Spanish missions San Xavier del Bac in Tucson, Arizona and San Juan Bautista in California, it’s easy to assume the series is purely focused on religion; the architectural concern, however, fast dispels that simple assumption.

Geometric patterns and painterly textures emerge from digitally cropped architectural elements to form intricate and impossible combinations of light and shadow. It’s a dazzling display of hard structures made soft through “spotlights” of manipulation–and it’s all very dreamlike, in a way.

Walking into Helikon’s Gallery 101 cements this feeling even more. On display in this project space is an accompanying installation titled “Stations” that has to be experienced in person. Combining massive wall-covering prints with three-dimensional structures, it’s like stepping into a Jorge Luis Borges short story: disorienting, with a maddening sense of the infinite. Beams of stark white are echoed back and forth between the 2D and 3D elements, inviting viewing from many angles. “Rotations,” another series in the hallway outside, explores this idea further in two-dimensional format.

Altogether the three series play with space in a fascinating way, but there’s a narrative implied as well, making it all a kind of meandering meditation on the role of place in history. Alpert + Kahn’s “Mission” is on display at Helikon Gallery through April 11. Photos are from First Friday reception. For more information and to purchase works and available (smaller) prints, visit www.helikongallery.com/alpert-kahn.php     

 

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 Douglas Kahn’s “between silence”

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 Douglas Kahn’s “elemental break”

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 Douglas Kahn’s “mision nuevo”

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 Douglas Kahn’s “kino’s domus”

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 Douglas Kahn’s “arc of the dove’s flight”

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 Douglas Kahn’s “why blue”

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 Alpert + Kahn’s “at the fault”

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View of Alpert + Kahn’s “Stations”

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View of Alpert + Kahn’s “Stations”