Station Independent Projects
138 Eldridge Street, New York, New York
By PATTY HARRIS, MAR. 2016
Kristine Marx is a video and installation artist based in New York City. She has had solo exhibitions at Plane Space (New York City), Fringe (Los Angeles), Big & Small/Casual (New York City), and at the Berliner Liste with Herrmann & Wagner (Berlin). She has collaborated on several multimedia performance projects with composers Akemi Naito and John Supko and musicians Greg Beyer and Erin Lesser. In addition to working as an artist, Marx writes essays and reviews on film for PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. She presently teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
PH: In your recent show at Station Independent Projects, you explored defining interior space through video, projections, and watercolors of the gallery space viewed through a fish-eye lens. What drives your interest in articulating a particular space through these various means?
KM: I’ve been working with space and spatial problems for the last 15 - 20 years in various ways. This comes from my own experience of walking around in my daily life and observing how one experiences space in a fragmented way. When you are walking into a room, for example, you are taking it in with your eyes one piece at a time and then reconstructing it in your mind. We have this experience of moving through time and space and then piecing those fragments together. Suturing together these fragments has become interesting to me. With video I’ve been shooting a lot of spaces and then in the editing process taking them apart and reconfiguring them. I film several points-of-view with a stationary camera, often of a figure walking through the space. Then I take apart those points-of-view and reconstruct them. I then project the video onto a 3-dimensional object like a plexiglass structure. It is the reconfiguration that I am interested in. A real physical space was the starting point for all of those video installations and paintings. In this case, the space was the gallery. The watercolors are taking apart that space and reconfiguring it onto a 2-dimensional surface through a rounded lens. I’m playing with ideas of perspective but also moving away from that and distorting it in this reconfiguration.
PH: You’ve said that you are interested in anti-narrative. What do you mean by that?
KM: The history of film is not just about narrative. There are a lot of artists that are interested in going against that, people who are not interested in telling a story. I’m interested in more abstract ideas and using the moving image to explore ideas about space and time. Perhaps it’s connected to being a visual artist rather than coming from a film background. My videos are anti-narrative in that the time being represented is cyclical. They are meant to be projected in a gallery space where a viewer can enter and leave at any time. It’s not like watching a film from the beginning through to the end. There’s no climax. I have done work with abstract imagery but typical of my work is using the figure, just walking, entering and exiting the space. It’s almost like marking time while doing very basic, common, everyday things.
PH: You’ve referenced Dutch genre painting as an influence in your work. Can you say more about that?
KM: I love painting and I love looking at painting. I especially love Northern Renaissance painters. There are some paintings in particular that I go back to again and again, for example, Van Eyck’s, The Marriage of Arnolfini. One of the reasons is that there is a convex mirror in the painting. There are several different viewpoints that are being represented in the same image. That’s something that I’m trying to do with my work, taking several viewpoints and combining them within the same work.
PH: That’s also happening in Velasquez’s Las Meninas.
KM: Yes. And that’s another painting that’s really influential for me. It’s also interesting that the artist is in both of those paintings. It’s a self-portrait as well. It’s like this infinity idea of combining multiple perspectives at once. And there is a sort of layering of time in those works. It’s inspiring.
PH: Would you say that in referencing Dutch painting there’s an emphasis on everyday life that is usually considered mundane? Does the quiet focus draw you to them?
KM: Absolutely. The subject matter of genre painting is something that I love and feel inspired by. It’s just an ordinary scene but it’s looked at very carefully. In Dutch paintings it’s quite beautiful how ordinary people are portrayed going about their day doing ordinary things. I’m interested in that but also interested in seeing that as somehow disorienting. For example, the video piece, Identified Edges Reconfigured, is like a genre scene. It’s an interior space with a chair and a figure comes in and sits down and then walks out. It invites you to come in. The viewer might have certain expectations about watching the figure move around. However, when you look at it more carefully you see that there are some strange things that are happening. You might anticipate the figure mirroring itself although it’s actually a different cut, a different scene, that is placed together in the editing. It invites the viewer’s gaze but then refuses it. It undermines what one’s expectations might be.
PH: Are those shifts subtle so that the more attention one pays to it, the more mysterious it becomes?
KM: Yes. I want them to be very subtle. It’s not a work that is like a spectacle or hits you over the head. You have to spend time with it. A lot of people say that the work is quiet, which I like. The work is asking the viewer to stay and look and see what’s happening. I want to ask more from the observer.
PH: The fact that the video projection of the perspective drawing is moving is interesting. Is this a way to point to the fact that people are constructing it in their head as they’re looking at it?
KM: Exactly. It’s from a point of view as if you were standing in the middle of the gallery, kind of like a pan of the whole space in totality. It’s also a moving drawing referencing the convention of perspective drawing. It’s composed of thousands of stills to create an animation.
PH: Do you think your work calls attention to psychological space?
KM: Yes. The piece, Projection, is about projecting light and it’s about projection in perspective drawing. It’s also about psychological projections. I try to connect all of those ideas. Identified Edges Reconfigured refers to identified edges used in topology. When a map of the world is flattened, for example, we understand its edges to continue. We mentally fill in the space between understanding how things connect. Cartographers and cosmologists are doing this as are artists. They are all taking the experience of a space and trying to represent it on a 2-dimensional surface. I find this parallel between scientists and artists interesting.
PH: Why did you paint the watercolors as through a fish-eye lens?
KM: I wanted to have a circular image to reference a lens. This group of works is called ‘Lensing’, because they play off of the idea of something in space called gravitational lensing. A galaxy or other massive body in space can act like a lens and bend the light of distant sources, such as stars. Light from the source can become projected many times over So that an observer would see the same star multiple times in the sky from Earth. It's this idea of space becoming a lens that interests me. And doubled images are something I've been dealing with for a long time in my work. I love those ideas and then also that of the image being separated from its source.
PH: It’s like the doubling of images in the video, being in two separate spaces at the same time.
KM: Exactly. I love that idea. I used that as a compositional structure for those paintings. They’re circular like a lens and then the image is doubled inside of the circle. They contain two images of the gallery. They refer back to Van Eyck and Velasquez with their images of circular convex mirrors. There is another space within the space represented. WM
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Patty Harris lives and works in Brookyn, New York.
She has been showing in New York since the mid 80s, as well as internationally. Recent shows include Exit Art and PS122. She has written for various downtown publications.