Critics’ Picks

Ariya Martin, Erotica for you . . . to take back since it was never mine, 2009, paper. Installation view.

New Orleans

Ariya Martin

UNO St. Claude Gallery
2429 St. Claude Avenue
May 9–June 16

Ariya Martin introduces evocative, sexually explicit themes in her first solo exhibition, “See Saw.” In the large installation, Erotica for you . . . to take back since it was never mine (all works 2009), hundreds of letter-size papers line the walls in rows and wrap around the U-shaped gallery. On some pages, the text is printed in ink, while on others it has been extracted. Patterns arise that create a rhythmic undercurrent to the whole piece. The text is legible in standard left-to-right fashion, but sentence structures can also be gleaned if the pages are read alternately between pairs of lines, and thus a constant up and down unfolds around the room, passively mirroring the movement that is directly detailed in the erotic text. Near the end, the lineup leans towards entropy; pages begin to overlap and fall from the walls. While the overarching cipher is quickly realized, the overall narrative of the show remains subtly masked. Other pieces, including No One Knows but Me, Heartache1, A Moment of Discovery, and Working Hard to Eradicate the Truth, indicate a profound personal narrative and incorporate themes of love and betrayal. In the video My Attempt to See Things, viewers see the artist intently cutting out the texts for the show over and over again. As “See Saw” moves from past to present and back again, Martin speaks to the universal drive to cope through logical and illogical dissection, re-creation, and objectification of our past experiences.