Ilya Lipkin

Lars Friedrich, Berlin, Germany

ilya_lipkin_01.jpg

Ilya Lipkin, Untitled, 2016, c-type print, 102 × 82 cm

Ilya Lipkin, Untitled, 2016, c-type print, 102 × 82 cm

In his works, Ilya Lipkin blends conventions of fashion editorial and fine art photography, creating spreads that appear in fashion and art magazines as well as advertisements that border on art. The series ‘Untitled (Some ATMs)’ (2014) shows people standing at cash machines, absorbed in their business; another, ‘Bastard Developments’ (2015) (shown at NOUSMOULES, Vienna) plays with the conventions of street photography. For his exhibition at Lars Friedrich in Berlin, Lipkin presented the series ‘I Am Vicky’ (2016), which features a strawberry blond model clad in black leather posing on a beat-up couch (also black leather), which is set against a white studio background (all works Untitled, 2016). 

The photographs in Lipkin’s series are styled after a fashion shoot but hardly function as documents – they’re partially out of focus, taken from behind and show only close crops of the figure. Only one photograph reveals the identity of the subject as artist Malene List Thomsen – whose works were also shown at Lars Friedrich in 2015 – and even then the viewer must be ‘in the know’. Two groups of traditionally framed prints are hung in the two rooms of the gallery: five vertical medium-format photos and three horizontal motifs printed from 35mm film. While two of the latter also depict List Thomsen on the couch, a third contains a strange detail from an amateurish mural like those found painted on the walls of schools or therapeutic facilities. In this landscape, M-shaped birds dot the sky while, below, a brook lined with bushes and reeds winds through the picture. The exhibition is formally and technically convincing, with contemporary lighting and styling and a precise photographic technique. 

ilya_lipkin_08.jpg

Ilya Lipkin, Untitled, 2016, c-print, 65 × 40 cm

Ilya Lipkin, Untitled, 2016, c-print, 65 × 40 cm

Lipkin references fetish culture, sex, rock, advertising and the subject of psychotherapy, represented by a person lying on a couch in a state of emotional distress. Lipkin’s stream-of-consciousness exhibition text resonates with this thread, as does the photograph of a mural that seems like something made by a gestalt therapy patient – a generic rural idyll that depicts an optimistic view of the future. Therapy has been a theme in Lipkin’s earlier work as well, such as the 2011 video piece Careless Talk Lives Costly, made collaboratively with Loretta Fahrenholz and Patrick Price. While therapy was explicitly addressed in this collaborative work, I Am Vicky doesn’t go beyond allusions and formal references. One could easily imagine an ad agency taking this approach.

The knowing, inaccessible photographs of the leather scene are juxtaposed with the mural’s openness and vulnerability – a stylistic contrast that seems overly pronounced. This latter image doesn’t quite function as a ‘key’ to the overall exhibition as it contributes too little by way of content. In the end, even the deliberately staged doubling of ‘art object as product’ (the photographs’ elegant framing) and ‘fetish motif in the image’ (with its reference to the product fetish) refers merely to itself.

While overly-construed and self-referential in the exhibition, the works’ theme gains credibility in light of Lipkin’s tendency to continually appropriate techniques and styles, and his skillful implementation of them to stage specific themes: therapy as trend, or the privatization of public space (in the case of street photography). It’s only when one looks beyond singular series or exhibitions and more generally toward Lipkin’s practice as a whole that it becomes clear what it is based on: a self-reflexive approach that links myriad trends, fashions and styles.

Translated by Andrea Scrima

Issue 25

First published in Issue 25

Autumn 2016

Most Read

With the 12th edition of the itinerant European biennial opening in Palermo, what do local artists, curators and...
In the age of Brexit, why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to return the ‘stolen’ Parthenon marbles has never been...
The museum director, who resigned last year, acted with ‘integrity’, an independent report finds
In further news: study finds US film critics overwhelmingly white and male; woman sues father over Basquiat
With the government’s push for the controversial English baccalaureate, why the arts should be an integral part of the...
From Bruce Nauman at the Schaulager to the story of a 1970s artist community in Carona at Weiss Falk, all the shows to...
Sotheby’s and Christie’s say they are dropping the practice of using female-only staff to pose for promotional...
For the annual city-wide art weekender ahead of Basel, the best shows and events to attend around town
For our second report from BB10, ahead of its public opening tomorrow, a focus on KW Institute for Contemporary Art
The curators seem set to ask, ‘how civilized is the world’s current state of affairs?’
In further news: declining UK museum visitors sees country fall in world rankings; first winner of Turner Prize,...
The Icelandic-Danish artist’s creation in Vejle, Denmark, responds to the tides and surface of the water: both artwork...
In further news: Emperor Constantine’s missing finger discovered in the Louvre; and are Van Gogh’s Sunflowers turning...
The opening of a major new exhibition by Lee Bul was delayed after one of the South Korean artist’s works caught fire
The LA-based painter’s exquisite skewing of Renaissance and biblical scenes at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London
Lee Bul, Abortion, 1989, performance documentation. Courtesy: the artist and PKM Gallery, Seoul
In a climate of perma-outrage has live art self-censored to live entertainment?

A tribute to the iconic New York journal: a platform through which founder Andy Warhol operated as artist, hustler and...
A distinctively American artist who, along with four neighbourhood contemporaries, changed the course of US painting...
From Assemble’s marbled floor tiles to Peter Zumthor's mixed-media miniatures, Emily King reports from the main...
From Ian White's posthumous retrospective to Lloyd Corporation's film about a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme, what to...
Kimberly Bradley speaks to ‘the German’ curator on the reasons for his early exit from the Austrian institution
In further news: #MeToo flashmob at Venice Architecture Biennale; BBC historian advocates for return of British...
German museums are being pushed to diversify their canons and respond to a globalized world – but is ‘cleaning up’ the...
Sophie Fiennes’s new film Bloodlight and Bami reveals a personal side of the singer as yet unseen 
‘At last there is a communal mechanism for women to call a halt to the demeaning conventions of machismo’
The German artist has put up 18 works for sale to raise money to buy 100 homes
The novelist explored Jewish identity in the US through a lens of frustrated heterosexuality
Artist Jesse Jones, who represented Ireland at last year’s Venice Biennale, on what is at stake in Friday’s Irish...
‘I spend more time being seduced by the void … as a way of energizing my language’: poet Wayne Koestenbaum speaks about...
To experience the music of the composer, who passed away last week at the age of 69, was to hear something tense,...
In a year charged with politicized tensions, mastery of craft trumps truth-to-power commentary
In further news: women wearing rainbow badges beaten in Beijing’s 798; gallerists Georg Kargl and Richard Gray have...
‘Coping as a woman in France is a daily battle: the aggression can be subtle, and you always have to push harder to...
Toyin Ojih Odutola’s portraits of a fictional aristocratic Nigerian family push toward an expanded definition...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018