Trained as a sculptor, Shirreff creates videos, photographs and, last but not least, sculptures, made with materials as diverse as compressed ash, plaster, paper, and hot-rolled steel. The main concern of her work is the way we experience plastic form in an age where the perception of any phenomenon is almost invariably mediated—and always influenced—by still and moving images. Many of the artist’s three-dimensional works have been made only to be photographed or filmed: the spectators know them solely through their images, and are left in doubt as to their actual size, the materials they are made of, their complete shape. On the other hand, the sculptures that Shirreff physically exhibits are often not in the full round, but rather “a series of conjoined fronts,” as the artist once described her ash works, adding that “they function, physically, more like photographs than sculpture.” Modern masters such as Medardo Rosso and Costantin Brancusi were already employing photography as an extension of their sculptural practice; taking their insights to an extreme, Shirreff conceives of sculpture today as an exploration of the gap between objects and their representations.
Erin Shirreff was born in British Columbia, Canada (1975) and now lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Halves and Wholes at Kunsthalle Basel (2016), and a survey exhibition of photographs, sculptures, and video co-curated by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (2015-16). Recent group exhibitions include the 2017 Montreal Biennale de l’image; You are looking at something that never occurred, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2017); L’image volée, Fondazione Prada, Milan (2016); and Photo-Poetics: An Anthology, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015). Her work has been exhibited at the ICA Philadelphia; Kunsthalle Helsinki; Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp; Dallas Museum of Art; the Power Plant, Toronto; François Pinault Foundation, Venice; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; Nouveau Musée National de Monaco; MoMA PS1, and elsewhere.
Shirreff has been an artist-in-residence at the Chinati Foundation (2011), and Artpace in San Antonio (2013), and is the recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others.