Michele Abeles at Sadie Coles


‘What do you like most about photography?
Its’s complicated messy and uncontrollable.’

This is not an attitude towards photography which many of our smart phone generation would share – and it does not seem to be a description of what we see when we walk into Sadie Coles. Her images are authoritative while simultaneously peculiar.

She does not appropriate but takes her own photographs, usually of ordinary things. She then goes to town and puts them through a kind of wild assault course. Her tactics include bathing them in spit or even massaging with body lotion.

Nerodia Floridiana (image 1) has a frame wrapped in gilded reptile skin. A small central collage comprises matchsticks and fragments of broken mirror. As she says ‘Mirrors should reflect before sending an image’. It prompts fantasies in me of snatching and running off with it.


Her images of young males appear rather more forcefully real, more’s the pity (image 2).
But the most impressive works show larger than life ‘ordinary’ people, trapped behind a kind of tile print, or in one case newspaper (image 3).

These images would stand comparison with any other master of collage, even Rauschenberg. You could even say that she is an updated and essentially female version.  Praise indeed.

Michele Abeles ‘world cup’ is at Sadie Coles, 62 Kingly Street, W1 until 19 December

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