Video Work | Photo/Installations | Documentary Projects

DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA
February 7-May 30, 2004
Self-Evidence: Identity in Contemporary Art

by Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, George Fifield, Francine Weiss

Whereas Poole's nudity is more a sign of strength than weakness, in Denise Marika's installation Recoil, her nakedness is a sign of vulnerability. Marika's video sculptures, which usually feature her as the performer, explore psychological states and aspects of the human condition through repetitive actions and gesture. In Recoil we see a projection of a naked, crouching woman (the artist) in a metal disc. She is pelted by small figurines, which turn out to be three-dimensional representations of her own body created with a revolutionary new technology.[i] <??> The figurines raining down on the artist are themselves fragile, often breaking as they strike. Both the human figure and her smaller replicas are vulnerable, susceptible to injury. As the assault continues, the artist cowers and tries to protect herself; she makes soft grunts and moans and develops red welts on her body. She is literally and figuratively "beating herself up," something we all do at times when we are unhappy with our lives or actions. Recoil is about fragility, vulnerability, and how difficult it is to protect oneself from internal and external acts of violence. As she says: "I use the body in ways both familiar and volatile, confronting our passivity as voyeurs and our responsibility as witnesses." On another level, the activity can be seen as a metaphor for the creative process.