Thursday, April 23, 2009

Between or Inside?

Everything about Cinthia Marcelle’s art speaks of quiet tension. Familiar materials and references are subverted to expose our presumptions of what we think we see in front of us and what might not be immediately evident. These subversions create a tension and show a fragility in things that we percieve to strongly represent the comfortable, recognisable constants of life. It is not that Marcelle shakes us from complacency more that she recontextualises familiar views and actions into wholly recognisable but new and perhaps slightly disturbing and disturbed assumptions of inevitable consequences, those things around us that are part of processes which we perceive to have a narratively assumed and predictable ‘beginning, middle and end’. Marcelle handles lightly her scuptural interventions and allows the viewer the freedom to observe from a distance a slowly insinuated re-reading of what we are seeing in front of our eyes. Her current works in the Sprovieri Gallery are diverse but simple, on entering the space we are faced with a divided room, a partition of wooden panels painted in yellow gloss paint, it is only on entering the room properly that we realise that this division is mirrored by another yellow painted panelled wall facing the other, a door is inserted into the panels to allow entry into the space but as this has been left ajar we only realise the echo of the door that allowed entry to the gallery after we have passed through them, once inside we are already being pulled subtly back out of the gallery before we have really entered it. To the left hand side of the gallery a reel to reel tape machine emanates the sound of its turning reels, however instead of the expected tape running through the tape head flaps of masking tape have been reeled around in its place. The masking tape appears torn under the force of the machines action, the force of its action fills the gallery with its sound. Opposite is a collage of masking tape torn and placed in strips reminiscent of brick courses, one looks intently to see the thoroughness or otherwise of the rendering of this piece but is dragged back to memories of walls and other brick built forms despite the fragility of the paper and tape image in front of your eyes.
On the other side of the yellow barrier further into a darkened gallery space is the signature piece and most beguiling of Marcelle’s exhibition, a video projects the film of a yellow earthmoving vehicle ponderously moving in a figure of eight on a muddy landscape. At some parts of its progress its mechanical arm moves downwards to push the muddy soil along its path at others the arm lifts to deposit this load along the continued path it is forming, the tyres of the vehicle flatten and cut their path through these lumps of deposited soil as the machine gradually draws its presence on the landscape whilst creating an action which destroys part of its activity. This see-sawing of movement, activity and intention appears the height of futility but this rhythmic and predictable progress is captivating for no other reason than the spectacle of its insignificant action creating nothing more than a mark on the landscape and a rhythm of activity. The final piece in Marcelle’s suite of subversions and interventions is a wooden rule longer than the height of the gallery which is squeezed between floor and ceiling, its bowed form is squashed inside the interior of the space in a tense but solid corruption of its materiality, form and function.
These actions, measurements, subversions and interventions created by Marcelle do not lead one to understanding or on the path to understanding the profundity of the world but exist in many states. Just as every individual and collective society can only control a small part of our existence at most times we are only between states, in Marcelle’s eyes we exist between predictable and unpredictable, known and unknown, comfort and discomfort and that, perhaps, is the pain and pleasure of our existence.

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