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Indepth Arts News:

"Malerie Marder"
2000-10-05 until 2000-11-26
Photographer's Gallery
London, , UK

Young American artist, Malerie Marder, creates vivid colour photographs which are highly studied in both their emotional and aesthetic effects. Her work relates to the time-honoured photographic genre of the nude study, made contemporary through a disquieting psychological charge. This charge derives in part from the photographer's close, often familial, relationship with her sitters. Marder photographs her mother, her father, her sister, her former boyfriends, and herself, naked. Even when the study is of a solitary figure, there is a sense that Marder is always there, whether behind or in front of the camera, as the missing link in an emotional dyad or triad.

She is the one who connects her subjects together, and she is the one who choreographs and manipulates their poses. She constructs scenarios which hint obliquely at the erotic undercurrents which normally remain submerged in the archetypal family drama. The father undressed and exposed, as vulnerable as a baby before his daughter's eye; the mother caught in a Mrs Robinson-like, bathroom encounter with her daughter's young boyfriend; the photographer and her sister, long-limbed and slick-skinned, competing sirens set aglow in the bright light of a Californian afternoon.

Marder is always looking, she says, for a failed sense of connection that I find romantic. The locations she chooses for her pictures - one hour 'sex' motels and the interiors of affluent suburban homes - contribute to their strangely detached mood. There is a sense of ennui and unreality which is pure soft-core, while their dark, troubling glamour relates more to the tradition of film noir. Living in the same city as Hollywood, it is unsurprising that Marder has learnt as much from the language of film-making, as photography or painting. She condenses the taciturn emotion, the sexual frisson and the elliptical narrative of auteurs such as Ingmar Bergman, or Mike Nichols (The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge) into the still photograph. Contemporary 'staged' photography is often related to the artificially-concentrated, dramatically-arrested moment of a film still, and while Marder's photographs could well have emanated from a mental movie screening deep in her own unconscious, her pictures are subtly different to the post-Cindy Sherman school. The 'before' and 'after' of the moment in a Marder photograph is, instead, concentrated into the extended 'now' of the single, still frame. Malerie Marder has created an original blend of documentary, directed and diaristic photography, which is imbued with a very particular vision of love.

Kate Bush
Senior Programmer

Malerie Marder
Victor Marder, 2000

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