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8 Rooms, 7 Mirrors, 6 Clocks, 2 Minds & 199 Panes of Glass at Catherine Edelman Gallery

by Debbie Labedz

With her first solo show at Catherine Edelman Gallery, 8 Rooms, 7 Mirrors, 6 Clocks, 2 Minds & 199 Panes of Glass, Lauren Simonutti offers viewers a tour de force experiment in self-imposed isolation and skillfully exposes the complexity of the human mind.

On March 28th, 2006 Simonutti began hearing voices. This was the beginning of her “rapid cycling, mixed state bipolar with schizoaffective disorder,” and subsequent descent into madness, which provided a rich base for her significant photographic journey into her own mind.

The artist spent three and a half years in isolation and used silver gelatin contact prints as documentation. The viewer is now left to ponder these photographs. The exhibition is comprised of several series of photographs: The Devil’s Alphabet, Birthdays, Magic Tricks, Grasping at Straws, and Sorrow and the End of All Sorrows.

Simonutti’s photograph, Helpless (2008), is a prime example of her calculated, almost obsessive compositions. Each item is carefully placed, with unimaginable detail. The artist does shoot until it is properly staged—always waiting for perfection to make a move. She cleverly places the rocking horse on the bed, and captures its image with the mirror. Simonutti is quite skilled at experimenting with angles.

The artist often toys with the balance of light and shadow in her work, as evidenced by Bedroom (2008).

Scenes of domesticity—bedrooms, bathtubs, mirrors, and clocks—are turned upside down by the artist’s mind and collection of found objects. A stipulation to her isolation is that Simonutti is only left with her body, her house, and whatever items are locked inside to work with—and she uses them to their fullest extent.

Simonutti’s photographs are cerebral and successfully capture the haunting qualities and unanswered questions of mental illness. The consistent, dedicated use of her body as the subject matter is thought out and captivating. The resulting exhibition is a brave concept—exposing one’s mind to the scrutiny of the public—the plight of the artist, so to speak.

Lauren Simonutti’s “8 Rooms, 7 Mirrors, 6 Clocks, 2 Minds & 199 Panes of Glass” is on exhibition at Catherine Edelman Gallery in River North until March 6, 2010.

See more images and video from Catherine Edelman Gallery’s current show.