Material divestments: Danielle Aseff and William Boling

William Boling, from "You Ain't Wrong"
William Boling, from "You Ain't Wrong"

Two recent exhibitions explore an icon of contemporary art, the found object as aesthetic artifact: Danielle Aseff’s “Estate Salese: Everything Must Go” at West Egg Café and William Boling’s “You Ain’t Wrong” at Hagedorn Foundation Gallery.

William Boling’s exhibition takes the idea of “objects to be divested” one step further than Aseff’s. He is not so much a photographer as he is an impresario of encounters on EBay and a similar New Zealand auction site. The objects are removed from their tenuous lives on the web and exhibited in various glimpses of passing fantasy.

The juxtapositions—a doll’s head paired with a pile of steel rods or a puzzle of Manhattan adjacent to a Mobile Home—is the essence of Boling’s collection. It’s what gives these profound and mundane images their visual robustness.

A few pieces are presented on a massive scale that, far exceeding the limits of the original computer screen, pushes the viewer into engaging the strained pixelation of the digital images. Smaller images, printed on silk and pinned into open shadow boxes, appear closer to the original size one may have encountered online. Yet the media and mounting employed signify a delicate fragility that contrasts with the harsh glare encountered while staring into a monitor.

Daniel Aseff, from "Everything Must Go"
Danielle Aseff, from "Estate Sales: Everything Must Go"

Estate sales are the final assemblage of a person’s life. They present an accumulation of personal materials, a requiem soon to be deconstructed by the estate’s disparate buyers. With photographic documentation, Danielle Aseff seeks the pathos that accompanies this passing of possessions from one life to the next.

Aseff’s images range from a pair of baby shoes to a pantry filled with redundant foodstuffs. The contents matter less than the reasons these items existed in someone’s life. Other objects are more perplexing, such as a cardboard-cutout NASCAR celebrity holding laundry detergent (above). The conundrum here stimulates more than the obvious emotion of other pieces.

The presentation varies in size and choice of medium. Most are matted photographs in traditional frames; others are plexi-sandwiched prints. Aseff’s estate sale series is, in a way, a continuation of her earlier exploration of discarded holiday trimmings and trappings. Both series investigate the sense of melancholia created by the passing of people and events.

Boling and Aseff both succeed in capturing ephemera that is simultaneously obscure and ordinary. The works lift objects away from their original contexts and, by showcasing one moment of their passing existence, make them enduring. Ironically, all objects are temporary; even these artworks could one day end up on eBay or at someone else’s estate sale.

Danielle Assef’s “Estate Sales: Everything Must Go” continues at West Egg Café through Oct. 27.
Sadly, William Boling’s “You Ain’t Wrong” closed Fri. Oct. 3. Hagedorn Foundation Gallery hosts a new show titled “Interstate 50” starting today, Oct. 9, through Nov. 20.
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