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At Anthony Greaney, an installation built from shards of childhood memories

Katarina Burin and Farhad Mirza’s “a low storey between two others”Peter Smith Studio

SOMERVILLE — Katarina Burin and Farhad Mirza make visual rhymes out of details from their past in the show they call “a low storey between two others” at Anthony Greaney. Viewers likely won’t recognize the yellow from Mirza’s childhood bedroom walls or a blue-green screen from a museum Burin visited when she was young. But they will sense the intangible substance of memory and the etheric weave of collaboration in the installation’s interplay of color, form, and scale.

The artists share fascinations with architecture and design. Mirza, from Pakistan, teaches at Bennington College. Burin, born in Slovakia, was a James and Audrey Foster Prize winner at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 2013 and teaches at Harvard.


The installation nods outward to the space it inhabits. Even as rhymes ricochet about, the whole seems to eddy from the walls into the room’s center.

It begins with old photos of the artists as children — blown up, sliced into columns, and mounted on the wall. There’s an indelible tug of nostalgia, of childhoods at the beach, but faces are impossible to read; picture gives way to color and the rhythm of the columns. Beside the sliced photos, columns of colors echo the installation.

Models of architectural and design details sit on a large plinth in the middle of the gallery. The aqua screen. A Pakistani stairway with rounded, overlapping steps. Peaked Slovakian rooftops. A woven blue grid you’ll recognize from a lawn chair. The artists double or quadruple these forms, shift scales, rotate them, and squash them flat. A broken corner in three yellows looms at one end of the plinth, shrinks at the other, and flattens into abstraction against two gallery walls.

The call and response is like chamber music. Every variation rouses a mixture of familiarity and surprise. Changes in scale conjure the wonder and disorientation of growing big and small from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” And this piece is just a jewel-box. If Burin and Mirza did a similar project in a larger gallery, with human-scale elements, transmuting personal shards of memory into a maze to navigate, it could be symphonic.


KATARINA BURIN, AND FARHAD MIRZA:   a low storey between two others

At Anthony Greaney, 438 Somerville Ave., Somerville, through Dec. 7. 617-482-0055,

Cate McQuaid can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.