Ari Marcopoulos: Wherever You Go
May 10 – June 16, 2012
by Jill Conner
Photographer Ari Marcopoulos moved to New York City the day before John Lennon was assassinated. In dialogue with Interview Magazine, Marcopoulos remembers very few details of his first time in New York due to the shock of Lennon’s sudden death. The photographer eventually worked as an assistant to Andy Warhol, and his work has long embraced the essence of subculture along with its stripped-down realities. An exhibition of Marcopoulos’s most recent work appeared at Marlborough Chelsea in a show titled Wherever You Go that consisted of ten large-scale photographs and one video all of which explored different characteristics of the undercurrent that continues to frame daily life in New York City.
1.2244 is three feet wide and about six feet tall. As the first work to be seen in the show, this vast abstract print on rice paper initially shows nothing beyond the light shade of gray seen on hot summer sidewalks. It soon turns out that this print is a magnified shot of a man’s bare chest, which is hard to discern at first. Marcopoulos’s link of chalk gray to the body of an anonymous sitter – an outsider – continues in 1.2065, except here the photographer captures someone’s bare back that appears at a three-quarter angle, against a white background.
The concrete traffic ribbon seen in 1.1870 reflects a similar grainy surface that is used by bikers and skateboarders. The suggestion of the calligraphic line appears again in the tattoos that cover the sitter’s body in God’s Son and Wherever You Go. This exhibition quickly fades into two images - 1.1163 and 1.1162 - that recall Barnett Newman’s zip paintings. A color video titled City Riders was made inside a New York City subway car and features the dull, rambling sounds of mass transit that drone on as passengers either read or sit quietly. This voyeuristic view of anonymous city residents, portrayed in the middle of their commute, encapsulates the New York experience: the gist of this city as a fast-paced environment that carries one while making modest changes in order to adjust with the progress of time.
Jill Conner is an art critic and curator based in New York City. She is currently the New York Editor for Whitehot Magazine and writes for other publications such as Afterimage, ArtUS, Sculpture and Art in America.
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