Critics’ Picks

View of “Marlo Pascual,” 2010.

View of “Marlo Pascual,” 2010.

New York

Marlo Pascual

Casey Kaplan
121 West 27th Street
January 7–February 13, 2010

The line that lies between sculpture and photography has been explored to the point of near erasure in some recent art. In Marlo Pascual’s first solo exhibition at this gallery, she joins the conversation, exhibiting work that incorporates sourced images and found objects to smart, self-assured effect. The sculptural plays a role in the work here even before concrete objects come into (or, rather, into contact with) the picture. At the entrance to the show hangs a black-and-white print of a vintage photograph, depicting the back of a young woman’s head. Her hair is elaborately curled and plaited, and the spectacular attention it receives, not just in the original image (probably taken from a 1940s beauty manual) but especially via Pascual’s appropriation, highlights the photograph’s intense sculptural plasticity––so much so that we begin to wonder whether we are looking at what, actually, is the woman’s face––one that is, nightmarishly, all glossy, tactile hair.

The interest in the oddness of the seemingly innocuous continues in Pascual’s assemblages. Disembodied, hacked-up bits and bobs keep popping up in curious places: A photograph of a face is unevenly bisected by floor and wall, a potted houseplant sprouting surrealistically from its cheekbone; an enlarged head shot of a man with the handsomely faded looks of an obscure matinee idol is perched upside down on a rock; an image of flirty, heel-shod legs emerges from the wall, partitionlike; a photograph of a woman posing prettily as she gazes at her own reflection is divided by strips of mirror, accompanied nearby by a lamp atop an end table. All of this not only amounts to some very entertaining interior design but also directs us to a larger point. For Pascual, photography and sculpture are both, ultimately, more lamp than mirror: In playing with the spatial and theoretical relationship between the two, photography becomes less a mimesis-centered activity and more a pleasingly strange sculptural intervention.