By Christine Temin
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The work in question is "Turn Away," by the Boston sculptor Denise Marika, who has been the subject of solo shows at such prestigious venues as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and New York's Museum of Modern Art. Marika deals with the vulnerability of the nude body, and with the fragility of human relationships. MASS MoCA's expanded version of "Turn Away," originally seen in 1990 at the Boston Center for the Arts' Cyclorama, is a free-standing 20-foot-long plywood room, like a giant wooden crate. You pull a copper drawer out from the wall; inside lies a video-woman who makes the briefest eye contact with you, then turns away, over and over, as if rejecting a lover. The piece is a play on power: You can open and close the drawer, but you can't make the woman face you.
. . . . Marika's "Recoil," . . . has just been acquired by the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, which will feature it in its "Celebrating Contemporary Art in New England" show . . . . "Recoil" is a powerful video of a nude, crouching woman trapped in a giant saucer on the floor, so you look down on her. She's constantly being pelted with tiny clay versions of herself, another of Marika’s references to the cringing woman trying to avoid danger.