CACSA Contemporary 2012


Placed in a portioned alcove, James L. Marshall’s sculptural and photographic works draw on a wide range of references, to gloomy, menacing effect. An upsidedown T-shaped wooden structure – like an inverted crucifix, we think – and painted glossy black, rests against one wall. Within its shaft is a set lit, white fluorescent tube. The elements knit together formally and conceptually; the transcendental minimalism of Dan Flavin is neatly but frighteningly mated with what looks like a prop from a heavy metal gig. On the adjacent wall rests an aluminum box with the words “NO FATE” laser cut in a gothic typeface. It’s backlit with a red fluoro. The words are those Sarah Connor carves into a picnic bench in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in one of the character’s more lugubrious, unhinged moments, and they give the work another kind of apocalyptic-pop-culture resonance. Finally, on the third wall, two black and white photographs depict Death Valley, California.

The images are sealed into custom-made boxes – one red slightly above the other in blue, throwing into question their temporal divide. Each shows a pathway eroded though anticlinal waves of sedimentary rocks terminating in an apparent dead-end. They are remarkable images, like geological versions of Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows. Somehow, in a hard to analyse way, this collection of high and low culture clichés grinds together, expressing a sinister paranoiac, worldview.

Text - Michael Newall & Polly Dance, Same Make, Similar Model.

James L. Marshall - CACSA Contemprary 2012 Instllation View 1

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