The focus of the show is the large-scale tablescape Laid (Time-) Table with Cycads (2015) which recreates the prehistoric world in miniature. Cycads are the plants with large fronds that explode from the piece, a prehistoric species that still exists today. In addition to the flora that has pre-dated human life, the tabletop is filled with goblets, dishware, and more modern artifacts of the Anthropocene era. Through this assemblage, Lipman connects our present with the past, reminding us that this pre-human history has informed every aspect of our daily lives and that we are still very much connected to this world, however removed we may seem.
Lipman’s tabletop assemblages, like Laid (Time-) Table with Cycads and the smaller Sphenophyllum and Chains (2019), reference the vast tradition of still lifes in art history, and in particular the sumptuous vanitas and banquet scenes particular to the Dutch Golden Age. These scenes were laden with symbolism, each food and peculiar detail (like the presence of mice or monkeys) replete with a specific meaning. Reminders of the fleeting nature of our lives and the material wealth we may fill it with, when rendered in glass, the scenes take on a new dimension, their translucence giving them a ghostly, and certainly fragile, feel.