A Theater of Dreams: Dixie Sheridan by Carole Maso

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 73 Fall 2000
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Dixie Sheridan, Drowning in Euphoria, Silk Road Theatre Co. Courtesy of the artist.

In Dixie Sheridan’s photographs, moments generated from the real stage, isolated and freed from their context, their burden of narrative, take on a compelling, mesmerizing drama of their own. Both utterly specific and completely open-ended, Sheridan’s images can at times seem emblematic: shimmering, trembling in mysterious splendor.

These scenarios, having lost their coordinates, are allowed to exist in a kind of staged-for-no-one space where they have a fresh, gently surrealist existence. An image of a glowing red purse positioned on a troubled human landscape has replayed again and again in my mind since I saw the show: a broken-off piece of the world’s strangely moving detritus, sending its gorgeous, unreadable signal.

A peculiar magic is at work here. Instants of human existence float before us: a man, a chair, a bench, two shadows, an exit sign. Stairs leading we know not where, the siren of a red dress, a dancer dancing in eternal darkness, surrounded by the off-kilter, disconcerting space Sheridan’s eye arranges again and again. At once passionate and dispassionate, logical and deranged, she photographs from the depths of her psyche with wonder and aplomb.

I come away from Sheridan’s photos seeing the world a little differently: the danger and vulnerability of its objects, the quality of its darkness, the space that keeps collecting above my head. Through this work I come to be reminded of the world’s obdurate resistance to reduction or simplification, its enigmatic refusal to decode our most urgent messages or answer our most pressing questions, its terrible and strange radiance. This is the truth upon which Sheridan’s seductive and fierce photographs insist.

Dixie Sheridan’s photographs were recently on view at 55 Mercer Gallery.

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Originally published in

BOMB 73, Fall 2000

Featuring interviews with Vik Muniz, Shirin Neshat, Madison Smartt Bell, Javier Marias, Misia, Michael Frayn, Karyn Kusama, and Michael Roth.

Read the issue
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