Foreign correspondence

By GREG COOK  |  February 5, 2008
ISOLATION AND LONELINESS: Milena Dopitova’s Green Plateaus I.

The university’s Fine Arts Center Galleries also offer Slovak artist Pavel Pecha’s 13 “Staged Photographs.” Scenes, all set on a mowed field, include a woman laying under a shroud like a corpse; shrouded figures walking against the wind; people rising from holes in dirt, all facing a cellist on a tall platform; and two seated men facing each other while a shrouded table hangs from poles in the air between them. They feel like glimpses of some arch experimental theater.

The university’s photography gallery presents “Girl of My Dreams” by New Yorker Stacy Renee Morrison, and organized by galleries director Judith Tolnick Champa. Several years ago, Morrison came into possession of an old trunk containing paper dolls, daguerreotypes, a ribbon, a dance card from an 1860 ball in Boston in honor of the Prince of Wales. At first Morrison dreamed princess dreams of the life of Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander, the 19th-century woman who seems to have put together the trunk. When Morrison investigated who the woman really was, she found that Ostrander had been part of the Bristol aristocracy.
All this inspired Morrrison’s photos of a doll floating in what might be a river, a white ribbon curling against a velvety black void, a paper doll with three paper dresses, and a framed daguerreotype of two severe-looking girls, apparently Ostrander and a sister. They have an air of 19th-century romance crossed with contemporary perfume ads. The proceedings get into eerie territory (think Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo) when Morrison photographically merges her face with Ostrander’s, and in another photo apparently dons her clothing and walks into the ocean. Morrison doesn’t connect the dots between the objects or make a strong case for why these objects or Ostrander herself demand our attention, but individual images are attractive.

“Close Encounters: Central European Video Art” | Through February 10 | Stacey Renee Morrison, “Girl Of My Dreams” | Through March 16 | Pavel Pecha, “Staged Photographs” | Through February 28 | University of Rhode Island, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston | 401.874.2775 |

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