Art New England, April / May 2001

Danforth Museum of Art / Framingham

Denise Marika: Axis

Denise Marika’s video installation, Axis, purposefully addresses themes of movement, time, measurement, and endurance with memorable images.
Visitors entering the gallery break the projection beam and become part of the subtly interactive installation. Three projected images fill the gallery walls. On the back wall, a video shown over a narrow, 30-foot long drawing of undulating lines captures the flickering motion of the light reflected on the water. On the side walls a naked woman crouching in a tidal pool is projected on blackboards. Every few minutes the figure rotates, like the hand of a clock around an axis accompanied by the quick, jarring sound of nails on a blackboard. A drawn figure remains stationary beneath the projected images, marking the movement.
Here, Marika uses herself as the model as she has in many of her previous works. Nudity symbolizes the universal human condition, an image simultaneously powerful and vulnerable. The gentle in and out motion of the water is reminiscent of breathing. This soothing, lapping sound is broken only by the quick, unpleasant screech as the figure is repositioned. The figure becomes the measurement of change, and the sound highlights the difficult and painful process of realigning.
Axis is aptly named; it is a multifaceted theme for an installation carefully executed, contemplative, and stimulating. In addition to sight and sound, video has the added advantage of time, taking viewers on a visual ride in which the artist determines the pacing. It enables us to step outside everyday life, to reflect on the movement and change possible within ourselves