Every month in Richmond, Virginia, the arts community hosts its First Fridays events. At these events, galleries in and around the main arts district extend their hours into the evening for visitors to attend and enjoy show openings. It was at one of these events where I and my partner came across an unexpected treat at Candela Books + Gallery. On display there was the work of Kahn & Selesnick, an artist duo working in photography, story telling, art installation and performance.
At first glance, I was drawn in to the gallery by the wall of graphic prints and unmounted paintings covering the wall like a tapestry of seemingly random, loosely related imagery. There were paintings of human figures comprised of coral, leaves and other life from the natural world, as well as posters depicting Germanesque Art Deco posters depicting Nosferatu and other bat creatures.
The adjacent wall was covered with photos and text illustrating the artists’ “100 Views of the Drowning World,” a series presenting a surreal montage of performers among various natural landscapes. The culmination of vignettes documents the fictitious 1930’s Truppe Fledermaus, in costumes ranging from animal forms to circus performers. In one instance, a man-like creature stands on a barren beach wearing a birdcage on his head while holding strings connected to hands reaching up from the sand and encircling him. Other figures are shown among snow and ice, woodland scenes and in metaphysical encounters.
The prolific culmination of work between Kahn & Selesnick is an allusion to the human relationship with the environment. Scenes of water and decay especially bring to mind the effects of climate change and the inescapable truth of our connection with nature. By choosing to relate their subject matter from the perspective of a bygone era, it’s a poignant reminder of how relatively quickly things change in our world and leave us with a sense of nostalgia.
For more about Kahn & Selesnick, please visit their site at kahnselesnick.biz.