Critics’ Picks

Emanuele Marcuccio, Portrait of a Young Man in Brussels, 2021, digital C-Print (photograph by Marc Asekhame), 2021, 23 x 16 1/2."

Emanuele Marcuccio, Portrait of a Young Man in Brussels, 2021, digital C-Print (photograph by Marc Asekhame), 2021, 23 x 16 1/2."

Brussels

Emanuele Marcuccio

Damien and the Love Guru
Rue de Tamines 19
September 9–October 29, 2021

The exhibition “SEP 2021” centers on “Portrait of a Young Man in Brussels,” (all works 2021), a series of eight modest photographs taken by Marc Asekhame for the artist Emanuele Marcuccio. The titular protagonist wears a bored expression. He’s good looking in that listless way that makes the old want to slap the young. He lingers in a small, boxlike room containing a bed, a few mirrors, and some desultory furniture. The deliberately shoddy construction of the model’s surroundings are illuminated with arc lights, and tripods and single-lens reflex cameras feature prominently within the images, clueing viewers in to the fact that what they are seeing is set in a professional studio. In certain photographs, the fake walls are hung with blank forms created to match the proportions of a flat-screen television, or perhaps a Josef Albers painting. Their equation with each other is dispiriting. If these voids refer to the world that frames the interior the Young Man inhabits, he doesn’t have much to look forward to when he goes outside.

The exhibition makes a strong statement about the permeability of public and private space. The scene in the photographs could be taken as the outcome of a Faustian pact: Our insatiable appetite for attention has been gratified by a complete infrastructure for self-documentation, but as a result the grimy everyday, made no more glamorous by being on public display, has turned into a kind of prison. Meanwhile, on the black surfaces of TV, the two identically titled works that formally emulate flat-screen televisions, nothing is visible other than the ends of rivets. Riveted, without being riveting, the blank screens watch as the young man idles. Adulation was supposed to feel better than this.