The Boston Phoenix
By Christopher Millis | April 20, 2007
“… Last year, video artist Denise Marika made her theatrical debut by providing footage to Rinde Eckert’s Orpheus X, which enjoyed its world premiere at the Zero Arrow Theatre in Cambridge. This year, three enlarged and digitally manipulated stills from that footage make up her exhibit at the Howard Yezerski Gallery. Having missed Orpheus X in performance, I can’t compare the still photos with the movie from which they derive. I can say that the color photographs, with their Bosch-like torment and hints of deformity (a woman and a man struggle with each other in each of the 51-by-46-inch frames, and in one frame their wrestling limbs seemingly melt into each other’s bodies), offer a distinct if highly stylized impression of hellish agony. I’m not sure how the warring couple relates to the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, however. In the legend, Orpheus’s musicianship is so powerful and enchanting that Hades and Persephone agree to let him retrieve his beloved wife from the underworld (she was bitten by a poisonous snake) on the condition that he not look at her until they’d returned to earth. He does, and she’s lost to him forever.
Neither love nor longing belongs to Marika’s dynamic duo, who instead enact a ritualized blood sport; each appears to be tearing the other apart and down. If the idea is that even lovers as close as that mythic couple inflict harm on each other, then Marika’s concept reflects our own era’s perspective, a tragedy perhaps still greater than Orpheus and Eurydice’s.‘Animated Gestures’”
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