Critics’ Picks

View of “Ari Marcopoulos,” 2017.


Ari Marcopoulos

galerie frank elbaz | Paris
66 rue de Turenne
September 2 - October 14

“I am considering the filmic quality of still photographs, making fast photocopies and slower color pigment prints,” writes Ari Marcopoulos in the introduction to his exhibition here. The gallery’s walls are papered with newsprint images in long, neat rows. There’s a sense of an archive unfolding, but one with a delightfully scattershot approach. If we detect anything recurrent in Marcopoulos’s work, it’s a tenderness toward his cast of mostly nonfamous characters: young skaters, athletes, and rappers, sometimes outfitted in loose hoodies or low-slung jeans. Meanwhile, snippets of text—via signage, logos, and book spines—provide an elliptical running commentary: “NYPD”; “Make America Native Again”; “Jonas Mekas’ Scrapbook of the Sixties”; along with various headlines from the New York Times. The artist offsets this with an eight-screen video installation, Machine (all works 2017), an injection of cacophony and movement throughout the continuum of still images.

In the adjacent room is The Park, a fifty-eight-minute silent movie centered around a Brooklyn basketball court. “It’s the only court I know of . . . that has no fence around it, so the court’s activity blends seamlessly with life around it,” Marcopoulos notes. Passersby, including a woman clutching an open blue umbrella and a man carrying a paper bag, crisscross the grounds of the arena, making the mundane seem strange. The two adolescent boys playing ball there serve as a constant. As they move around the court, the populace circulates outside it. Eventually, the boys stop, then leave, letting the ball roll away. Within the whirl of the city, even bit players become major protagonists.