Critics’ Picks

New York

Rose Marcus

Eli Ping Frances Perkins
205 East 125th Street
March 6 - April 13

Rose Marcus’s solo exhibition “March” comprises four expansive ink-jet prints on vinyl adhered to the walls; each are cropped photo enlargements that depict shadowy figures from the waist down. The imagery (reminiscent of surveillance footage) and its materially impoverished presentation (the vinyl media relies wholly on existing gallery architecture) stir an ambiguous tone on the potential for resistance and individual agency amid an enveloping structural apparatus.

A tiled concrete floor shades the images’ backgrounds, while glassy reflections in the foreground cloud views of the bodies visiting within the space. The camera’s gaze is consistently removed—this partition between its subjects posits an insidious, critical air. In Lost the Boat (all works 2014), a dazzling orange tint flares over the shapes of limbs and shoes. Bodies loiter in stagnant attendance for an unforeseen event. Burghers shows three sets of legs and feet positioned toward one another in engagement. Each limb is static, passive, their arrangement forming a closed loop. We Are On It Working Ground Up shows boots and a profile silhouette of legs standing contrapposto, the figural position of antiquity that expresses a relaxed, calm temperament.

Urgency is not a theme put forth here. While these anonymous bodies gather, they participate as passive partakers who are less individuals than fictional subjects, brought together by a central eye. The artist’s punny exhibition title, which coincides with the series’ month on display, conjures a sharp visual contrast when formed as a verb—the confrontational tenor advanced through deliberately organized bodies is what lacks in the scenarios depicted in “March.” As these representations of loitering figures adhere in lockstep to the presentational structure—exhibition walls—encasing them, an alternate proposal presents itself: Under which conditions can a social milieu be a site for resistance?