Critics’ Picks

Daria Martin, At the Threshold, 2014–15, 16 mm, color, sound, 17 minutes 30 seconds.

London

Daria Martin

Maureen Paley
21 Herald Street
January 30 - March 13

There’s a striking sense of simplicity to Daria Martin’s second show here. At The Threshold, 2015, which premiered at the Istanbul Biennial, is the second installment of a film trilogy—the follow up to the artist’s Sensorium Tests, 2012. Previously shown in video format, it is projected here in its full 16-mm glory, as it was intended. This physicality is important, as Martin explores the phenomenon of mirror-synesthesia, a condition in which people feel a palpable touch on their own bodies when seeing another object or person being touched.

A domestic melodrama à la Douglas Sirk, At The Threshold combines deft camera cuts and boldly framed scenes with a sensuous haziness and soft colors. The result is powerful and casts a sort of glamour on the viewer. The dialogue is evocative, but the real strength lies in the nonverbal moments: A double-mirror scene stands as a metaphor for the entire film, as personal identities fuse and merge like so many feelings and sensations.

Indeed, the act of walking into the darkened screening room is akin to entering a nebulous womb or sensory deprivation chamber, weirdly amplifying what is inside it. As always, Martin manages to break down the barrier between screen and audience, external and internal senses mingling as if through a porous membrane. When the film is over and the screen goes black, there is a sense of having to shake oneself, to wonder how long one has been “away.” Like Keats’s nightingale, Martin leaves us, and we are changed: “Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?”