22 March 2024


Chelsea Ning’s photographs
capture displacement and mirage


by Kate Mothes

Chelsea Ning‘s enigmatic photographs purposefully leave much to the imagination. Soft, blurred, and occasionally cropped, her scenes unfold like fragments of narratives for which a complete story is always just out of reach. Ning intentionally erases or obscures parts of the view, curtailing the viewer’s ability to fully comprehend the subjects yet allowing them to find their own way through imagined scenes.

Ning often focuses on reflections and mirrors, suggesting the way in which reflections portray an inverted vision of what one presents to the world and suggesting that “the environments and representations of ourselves are created and abstract rather than objective,” the artist says. “It implies that our perception is the leading part that decides how we feel and what is happening in our mind.”

Themes of displacement and mirage weave through Ning’s images, central to a practice in which she constantly challenges her surroundings and considers her “personal identity as a minority, yet eagerly searching for more possibilities for recognition,” she says. Windows, mirrors, and glossy paint serve as portals as much as barriers to clarity. Through studies of distortion, the objectivity of reflections becomes blurred and skewed, inviting the viewer to interpret each scene based on their own emotions, associations, and experiences in the world.

The artist’s first solo exhibition in New York City, titled Mirage, is on view at iidrr gallery through March 25. Find more on her website and Instagram.

All images © Chelsea Ning

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