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Upon entering Night Gallery, one might miss the drama of a dropped ceiling which flanks the entryway. Although this piece may go (literally) over our heads, it is Marcus’ way of introducing us to the exhibition’s exploration of the emotional impact of architecture.
Marcus nails this intent most effectively when her works are erotically charged—diaphanous textiles spill out of the frame, trapped seductively like a slip in a car door: the bare legs of two unidentifiable (underage?) women; an abandoned wine glass; a cropped close-up of a woman fingering her collar.
And, always a building nearby, as in the background of a Film Noir: a reminder of the menace of the urban machine. These ordinary moments suggest a deceptive narrative, where the subtext of surveillance can swiftly shift into voyeurism.
In other works, the view is obstructed by dark shapes in the foreground. In an age where we are used to seeing any detail that we want, when we cannot see, we are frustrated, destabilized.
This discordance is less effective when the craftmanship is rough; the juxtapositions feel too forced and the photographed image (the backs of figures cycling in a park, a taxi waiting, stopped traffic) is too banal to create any kind of frisson. The work then loses the coded ambivalence of perverse voyeurism, and instead tips into the clichés of contemporary art. It’s unclear whether this clunky use of tropes is obsequious or is in fact an attempt to parody the imposing order of such structures.
The Four Seasons runs from May 30–July 11, 2015 at Night Gallery (2276 E 16th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021).