Callan Contemporary
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I Search in Snow
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"Review: I Search in Snow," Gambit
April 14, 2014

D. Eric Bookhardt on new sculpture by Sibylle Peretti at Callan Contemporary.

The mysterious figurative glass sculptures in Sibylle Peretti's I Search in Snow expo at Callan Contemporary feature young children who seem far removed from the playfully animated kids we normally encounter. As otherworldly as creatures in myths and fairy tales, Peretti's children exist in dreamlike settings they share with sinuous plants and small animals. Deftly rendered in a pale, soft palette of translucent white and magenta kiln-formed glass, they evoke the fantastical inner life we experienced when we were very young, or perhaps the echoes of that magically boundless time that may reappear in our dreams. For Peretti, childhood and dreams are part of nature, and her work has long been inspired by the legends of "feral children" who lived outside human society, a phenomenon that melds modern notions of alienation and the traditional nature mysticism of Peretti's native Germany. Whatever the reason, her kids have the trancelike quality associated with hermits who communicate with wild animals, as we see in To Know a Hawk, where a near-catatonic boy exchanges meaningful gazes with a hawk while other birds seem to cluster on his chest and shoulders.

In Snowchild (pictured), a young girl sleeps as hawks gather around her, and here the child is inseparable from the wild world. Both works are crafted from white kiln-forged glass that looks almost like Carrera marble, giving them a classical aura that contrasts with their psychological vibe. In the wall pieces, children often appear connected to each other by sinuous magenta vines or silver branches, visual effects that reach their most elaborate fruition in her magical bell jar series. In White Hawk 3, two hawks appear under a grapelike cluster of icy clear glass, and only from certain angles can a child's face be seen in the dome's mirrored rear surfaces. In these and other works, Peretti's children suggest near-mythical creatures whose profound silences enable connections with wild nature and its equivalents in the deep recesses of the poetic imagination.

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"Human Nature: A Conversation with Sibylle Peretti," Artvoices
October 2009

By Chris Herbeck

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"Review: Sibylle Peretti and Mixed Media Works," Gambit
November 2, 2009

By D. Eric Bookhardt

Intimate. Beautiful. Disturbing. Such are the adjectives applied to the work of Sibylle Peretti, whose visions of children convey a quietly mysterious otherworld. Like a parallel universe, Peretti-world is part dream and part fairy tale, but it also resonates with a certain reality we sense without knowing exactly what it is, at least not at first.

 

Peretti resides most of the year in New Orleans but keeps an apartment in Cologne, in her native Germany, and has long been inspired by children who live with circumstances that cause them to establish their own unique relationships with the world, especially the natural world of the feral children who inspired her current body of work. While the idea of children raised by wolves and wild creatures is hardly new, occurring often in mythologies, Peretti's approach is more psychological, invoking perhaps the prehistory of human consciousness — those deeply subconscious dreams or memories of a more mystical union with nature that's latent within all of us.

 

The works on view are a mixture of freestanding porcelain sculptures, etched translucent wall panels, and glass, raindrop-shaped wall sculptures, all depicting children seemingly in a state of suspended animation if not repose. Otherworldly and dreamlike, their presence is somnambulistic, charismatically quiescent as they relate to each other or to birds, vines and brambles, the flora and fauna of the natural landscape. Like her earlier series of "silent children," inspired by the haunting expressions seen in photographs of youngsters in antique German medical texts, they explore the hidden side of childhood, a complex, contemplative world of dreams, imaginings and gestures. Of the earlier series, Peretti said, "They represent innocence, but also a kind of knowing, yet they cannot really say what they know so they speak their own wordless language." Much the same might be said of these feral children, whose silence hints at the delicate relationship between human civilization and the remaining wildness that lingers around us and within us.