Press release – Melanie Schiff

By CAM Raleigh | March 27, 2013


CAM Raleigh
409 West Martin Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
Kate Thompson Shafer 919.513.8154

CAM Raleigh presents Melanie Schiff: The stars are not wanted now
Selected photographs | 2006 - 2012
On view May 17 - September 1, 2013

Melanie Schiff, Bloodbank, 2012. Archival inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta CHICAGO | BERLIN.

Raleigh, March 2013—CAM Raleigh is pleased to announce The stars are not wanted now, the largest and most comprehensive presentation of Melanie Schiff’s photographs to date. Spanning the years 2006 through 2012, and bracketing the period of Schiff’s move from Chicago to Los Angeles in 2008, the exhibition illuminates ongoing concerns in the artist’s investigations of light, atmosphere, place and landscape. “The stars are not wanted now” is taken from a line in W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues,” an oft-recited elegiac poem decreeing the suspension of time, light and communication. The phrase alludes to the imprints of time and memory apparent in Schiff’s solitary meditations. A close reading of the title also suggests Schiff’s poetic engagement with penetrating natural light, the role of natural phenomena in her subject matter, and her transition from incorporating the histories of icons in popular music, or “stars.”

Schiff achieves dramatic, sometimes haunting, effects with everyday objects, simple gestures, or found landscapes and interiors. Feeling less bound to objects as representations of self, the artist has stepped away from her earlier references to pop and youth culture. Schiff’s recent work is rooted in the tradition of photographers in the American West, such as Robert Adams, who ventured out into the landscape to look. Her prolonged engagement with specific locations and her precise sensitivity to the particularities of light yield quiet, almost mystical, revelations brimming with the residue of other lives.

Schiff has said that she speaks not from an individual’s perspective about an individual experience, but more collectively about how people feel connected to certain spaces. Her photographs often invite a slowed-down viewing of an idyllic space, whether indoor or outdoor. The artist is especially interested in sites that make one aware of time, such as unpopulated graffiti-covered canals that simultaneously reference the past and suggest a science-fiction version of the future. For example, in Handball Double (2012), multiple exposures of a black and white image of a concrete handball court wreak havoc on our architectural understanding of a space. In Hellroom (2009), layers of graffiti in an abandoned concrete drainage canal form a vibrant palimpsest that implicates each of the lives that have traversed this hallmark of urban infrastructure. Schiff engages a dialogue about painting and mark making, exploring how people signify their presence and claim their own bit of territory.

Melanie Schiff, Hellroom, 2009. Archival inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta CHICAGO | BERLIN.

Melanie Schiff, Lemon Tree, 2012. Archival inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta CHICAGO | BERLIN.

Schiff’s work was featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, and has also been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Print Center, Philadelphia; Seattle Museum of Art; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Smart Museum of Art, Chicago; and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. Her work is included in the collections of Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City. She has received a Chinati Foundation artist residency and an Artadia Award grant. Schiff attended Goldsmiths College, London and received her BFA from New York University (1999), and her MFA from University of Illinois-Chicago (2002). She lives and works in Los Angeles. Schiff is represented by Kavi Gupta, CHICAGO | BERLIN.

A publication will be available, with an essay by Shamim Momin, a poem by Kristen VanDeventer, and an interview with the artist by exhibition curator Kendra Paitz.

The exhibition Melanie Schiff: The stars are not wanted now, is curated by Kendra Paitz, Curator of Exhibitions at University Galleries of Illinois State University and organized by University Galleries of Illinois State University. It is coordinated at CAM Raleigh by Kate Thompson Shafer, interim director and Jeff Bell, lead preparator. CAM Raleigh is a collaboration between the Contemporary Art Foundation, the community and North Carolina State University’s (NC State) College of Design.

The exhibition and publication have been made possible by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. CAM Raleigh is funded in part by the City of Raleigh based on recommendations of the Raleigh Arts Commission.

Visit for additional information.

Opening Preview Celebrations and Exhibition Related Public Programs

Opening Reception
Friday, May 17, 2013
6:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
The opening reception for Melanie Schiff is in conjunction with CAM Raleigh’s May Third Friday program that includes after-hours access to the galleries, music by local DJs, and a cash bar. The reception is free with museum admission. Free for Members.

First Fridays
June 7, July 5, August 2
6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.
CAM Raleigh's First Friday program includes after-hours access to the galleries, new hands-on activities at the creation station, music by local DJs, food trucks, and a cash bar. First Fridays are free thanks to individual and corporate monthly sponsors.

Also On View
Ryan Travis Christian—Well, Here We Aren't Again
On view February 22 – June 17, 2013
CAM Raleigh presents a major exhibition of artworks by Ryan Travis Christian. For his first museum exhibition, Christian spent three weeks on site creating a large-scale wall drawing, sculptures anda floor installation specifically for CAM Raleigh’s Independent Weekly Gallery. Christian works primarily with graphite and ink. His images are constructed using abstract elements, comic utilities, and old fashion cartoon iconography.

CAM Raleigh Celebrates Two Years
Arthouse 2013 / 2nd Anniversary Party / Art + Culture Auction
CAM Raleigh is fast approaching its anniversary, to be celebrated at Arthouse 2013 on May 10, 2013. After another year of groundbreaking exhibitions, expansive educational programs, community events and all around hard work, the Contemporary Art Museum is proud to celebrate its second year in Raleigh’s warehouse district. Arthouse is CAM Raleigh’s largest fundraising event and one of the highlights of the Triangle social calendar, drawing more than 500 museum friends and art lovers.

Arthouse 2013 features a silent auction with incredible art and one-of-a-kind experiences, live performances, beverages by local mixologists and innovative cuisine from award-winning chefs Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Downtown Diner, Chuck’s, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey) and Scott Crawford (Herons at The Umstead Hotel and Spa). The evening will be hosted by special guest emcee, Pierce Freelon, a North Carolinian musician and scholar that will bring his unique and renowned talents and energy to the event. He will also perform an exclusive and inspirational performance during the VIP pre-party and will be accompanied by The Beast throughout the evening. All proceeds support CAM Raleigh programs and operations. Arthouse 2013 will be a spectacular celebration worthy of the museum’s many successes. Visit to purchase tickets to the event.

CAM Raleigh is pleased to promote Light Sensitive, a photography exhibition by our friends at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University presents Light Sensitive, on view through May 12. The exhibition includes more than 100 works, from tiny early daguerreotypes to large-scale contemporary color prints and videos, and is drawn from 12 public and private local collections. Light Sensitive is structured to challenge the widespread notion of the photographic medium as a form of mere realism. Understanding of photographic media suffers from the long-standing myth that a camera is an ‘innocent eye’ that transparently records an image of the world as if through an open window. Some of the power of photography comes precisely from faith in this myth, a myth that has been extremely useful in photographic journalism, in courtrooms, on television and on the internet, despite a long history of visual alteration ranging from subtle artistic manipulation to deliberate propagandistic deceit. Though the camera is capable of recording images of the world in astonishing detail, a great variety of photographic tools and techniques can work to take ordinary features of a photograph—light and dark, shape and form, depth and space, size and scale, soft and sharp focus—and transform them into elements that alter our vision.

CAM Raleigh Hours and Admission
CAM Raleigh hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 11:00 a.m.–6:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m., and first and third Fridays of the month open late. The museum is closed on Tuesday. General admission to the museum is $5. CAM Raleigh members, children 10 and under, members of NARM outside of the City of Raleigh and Mod/Co, and NC State College of Design students, staff, and faculty are admitted free.


CAM Raleigh is a non-collecting museum that explores what’s now and presents an always-changing museum experience. CAM Raleigh is collaboration between the Contemporary Art Foundation, the community of Raleigh and North Carolina State University’s College of Design. CAM Raleigh is generously supported by the Contemporary Art Foundation, North Carolina State University, individual and corporate members, private and corporate foundations, and government agencies. CAM Raleigh is located at 409 West Martin Street, Raleigh, NC 27603, between Harrington and West streets and in the heart of Raleigh’s Depot National Register Historic District and Warehouse District. CAM Raleigh has a parking lot; additional parking is available at metered spots on the street or at the Davie Street Parking Lot located at 201 W. Davie Street. Information about CAM Raleigh’s exhibitions, programs, and special events is available on the CAM Raleigh website at or by phone at 919.513.0946. Follow @camraleigh on twitter.


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