Mary Mary is delighted to present Rose Marcus’ first solo exhibition at the gallery and in the UK.

Marcus’ photographic works use iconic sites, and in concert, let them use her, in order to make objects that shift assumptions about physical presence and acts of observation. This new series further develops the artist’s themes of public space and its intrinsic use of private experience. Though the stories associated with each site are often well-known and part of a collective consciousness, her treatment of these sites put into relief expectation and its attendant boundaries.

Images are taken from locations designed to encourage contemplation: monuments, bridges, memorials, public artworks and formal outdoor spaces. Rather than build on these narratives, the snapshots of New York City act as both a symbolic and material foundation for sculptural and painterly interventions, skirting fixed categorisation. As such, Marcus assumes a peripheral stance, capturing the indirect and focusing on unknowns such as an overlooked framework or a minor action like commuting, exercising, constructing.

In ‘Core’ Marcus further pinpoints public space by braiding together images of construction workers, traffic, fields in Central Park, and public sculpture plazas around the city. As with much of Marcus’ work, although the images often contain signage, passersby and the backdrop of the familiar, a sense of trickery permeates. Each image offers just enough information to be understood, affording the viewer a fulcrum for orientation whilst imbuing a slippery sense of certainty within.

Marcus plays with these surface readings; layering image upon image, rotating, distorting and repeating, making literal cuts that puncture the image surface while draping fabrics to skew, block out and reveal. For Marcus, these images operate tactically as hooks on which to catch and layer certain atmospheres, tensions and physical responses. The results are portraits that call out to something immutable, and are at once painting, drawing, sculpture and photograph. 

The works operate in sharp opposition to the commercial advertising she borrows from in scale, material and manufacture. These photographs do not belong to a polished mainstream vocabulary or to scrolling and real world image feeds that we are constantly taking in. It appears as if the approach is to sculpt into the work the other side of the present – subjective thoughts and personal experiences that appear like captions on the image surface. In their indifference towards satisfying the viewer, and their refusal of narrative convention, they are seductive in their elegant open-endedness, offering as they do pauses and interruptions which outline that which slips between the monumental.

Taking cues from the urban environment, traces of the works’ making remain up front and present within it; sweeping, cutting gestures and the loose arrangement of fabrics reflect the body back into the image. In reference to this they demonstrate an awareness of gender tropes, playing with oppositions, whilst linked to the sincerity of body, figuration and craft.

Marcus’ works are everything at once; contradictory, self-reflexive and questioning, without seeking to explain or resolve. Reaching beyond the surface of public experience and architecture, these images offer uncertain truths about everyday being, skirting poignancy and arriving at the beguiling.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1982, Marcus lives and works in New York. Having originally studied architecture and urban studies, Marcus went on to complete a BFA in sculpture (2005) and an MA in art history in 2014 at Hunter College, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include And Now, Dallas (2016); ‘The Four Seasons,’ Night Gallery, Los Angeles (2015); ‘At Your Fingertips,’ David Petersen Gallery, Minneapolis (2014). Selected group exhibitions include ‘In the Abstract,’ MASS MoCA, Massachusetts; ‘Windows,’ David Petersen Gallery, Minneapolis; ‘The Gap between the Fridge and the Cooker,’ The Modern Institute, Glasgow (all 2017); ‘Daydream from 2013,’ CANADA, New York (2016); ‘Towards the Theory of a Unified Hole,’ Bodega, New York; ‘The Lazy Sunbathers,’ Sies + Hoke, Dusseldorf; ‘Marfa Fictions,’ Derek Eller, New York (all 2015); ‘le doux ron ron quotidian,’ Tanya Leighton, Berlin (2014). Marcus has a forthcoming solo exhibition at Night Gallery in Los Angeles in early 2019. 

Exhibition opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11 – 6pm & by appointment