Critics’ Picks

Mark Woods, Trap Door, 2009, color photograph,19 3/16 x 24".

New York

Mark Woods

Newman Popiashvili
504 West 22nd Street
March 7 - April 25

Inspired in part by regular sessions with a shrink, Mark Woods’s “After Analysis” represents the New York–based photographer’s attempt at free-associating his way to a more improvisational approach. Ditching the compositional rules and regs on which he has relied previously, Woods here adopts a more snapshotlike aesthetic. Training his camera on a ragtag parade of crumbling storefronts and decrepit street furniture, he locates instances of visual tension that also seem to embody a range of conceptual schisms. But while derived in part from the idea of a talking cure, the show’s title also suggests ambivalence about the therapeutic value of freewheeling thought (“after” can mean “post”). The juxtaposition of the artist’s self-directed questioning with this broader philosophical skepticism augments an already-appealing set of images.

It is tempting to read several of these pictures as directly symbolic of subconscious machinations. There is a trapdoor in one that might represent a gateway to the artist’s deepest desires, a stairway to nowhere in another that must surely embody some profound frustration. But at their best, Woods’s shots additionally echo the endearing efforts at off-the-cuff material adaptation that Richard Wentworth so wittily documents in his ongoing series “Making Do and Getting By,” 1974–present. Hood, 2009, in which a car is just barely held together with a couple dozen strips of duct tape, might be an allegory for psychic repression, but it also depicts a real-world happenstance that looks uncannily like a work of art—and a memorably eccentric one at that.