Ambiguous narratives in Jane Martin show at Guild Hall - 27 East

Arts & Living

Arts & Living / 1376300

Ambiguous narratives in Jane Martin show at Guild Hall

author on Dec 15, 2008

In her current exhibition at Guild Hall in East Hampton, “Reckoning and Rapture,” Jane Martin is showing works conjuring intriguingly ambiguous narratives brimming with sensuality and an understated yet powerfully emotional psychological tension.

The exhibition is particularly interesting in its demonstration that these effects are perceived less by the viewer’s eyes and more through the emotions, reflecting, as the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung once wrote, that one should never “pretend to understand the world only by the intellect, we apprehend it just as much by feeling.”

This has been an ongoing theme in Ms. Martin’s work over the last few years, most powerfully in the images from her series of video stills in the “Closer Far Away” series, featuring swaying nude female forms dancing to unheard yet delicately insistent rhythms.

Allowing the figuration to take on mysterious qualities of apparitional wood nymphs furtively darting in and out of mystifying banks of fog in a primeval forest, the works juxtapose a certain surreal and dreamlike ambiance with the implied rationale and immediate impact of photographic reality.

Creating an environment in which madness and sanity are interchangeable emotional components, these works construct an intriguingly vague story line that is a product of the cadences and melodies elicited more by what was partially hidden than what was immediately visible.

In “Shelter-Sky” (video still, archival pigment print, resin, mixed media on wood, 2005), for example, the figure is frozen in motion, the strange intensity of the forest scene accentuated by the thick banks of fog from which the figure materializes. This effect is also heightened by the layers of resin that are poured over the photographic image, the elegant sheen invoking a great sense of depth while further underscoring a sensation of ambiguity and emotional distance that is powerfully arresting.

This construct is also prevalent in some of Ms. Martin’s more recent works, such as “On Wings, Lifted II” (video still, archival pigment print, resin, mixed media on wood, 2008) and “Reckoning” (digital C-print mounted on Dibond, 2008), each of which immediately establishes ineffable psychological overtones with the figuration of dancers frozen in motion, moving to what seems to be a cacophonous harmony that is silently dissonant and expressively jarring.

Embodying a profound combination of mystery and sensuality, they illustrate the essayist Havelock Ellis’s observation that dance “is no mere translation or abstraction from life, it is life itself.”

Interestingly, this existential narrative, which initially seemed a product of the ambiguity of the figures themselves as unrecognizably hazy seraphs, gains even more impact in the recent works in which Ms. Martin focuses on fragments of images that she then configures and constructs into a kind of psychological portraiture.

In works such as the two triptychs, “Immersion #1” and “Immersion #2” (both Digital C-Print, gallery mount on Sintra, 2008), for example, while posture and pose are still important elements in the compositions, the action derived from motion becomes more reminiscent of a stop-action sequence than of a single cell from which one discerns the artist’s thematic concept.

In addition, and perhaps most important, while the figures are partially obscured by steam and condensation, Ms. Martin makes the personas of the models a more immediate element. This is accomplished through a narrative derived from stringing together shards of a given instant, thereby creating a disjointed portrait of a moment in time, a stream of consciousness that is somehow simultaneously openly revealing and opaquely vague.

This dichotomy reaches an apogee of sorts in the nine-panel “Inward Appearances” (video stills, archival pigment prints, resin, mixed media on wood panels, 2008) in which the grid of abstracted photographs offers a psychological narrative that is contemplatively disrupted, like fragments of memories that may pertain to a specific moment, even though their meaning changes depending on the order in which one confronts them.

This same effect is also a factor in Ms. Martin’s series in which the human form is replaced by images of waves, the differences in configuration of each swell managing to tie them together as pieces of an ever changing plot that one understands as much through their relationship to abstract imagery as to representational reality.

Jane Martin’s exhibition at Guild Hall in East Hampton continues through January 18.

You May Also Like:

The Hamptons International Film Festival’s Full 2021 Slate

On September 15, HamptonsFilm announced its full slate of programming for the 2021 edition of ... 15 Sep 2021 by Staff Writer

Hamptons International Film Festival Sets COVID-19 Guidelines

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, the 2021 Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) will closely monitor and follow all public health guidelines during its run from October 7-13. “Our 29th edition will be our most unique festival to date. Our top priority is the health of our moviegoers, special guests, staff, and the greater Hamptons community,” explained Anne Chaisson, executive director of HamptonsFilm. “To ensure everyone's safety, we are implementing a mask mandate for all indoor venues and we will require proof of vaccination at all festival screenings and events. “We are so excited to share these wonderful films with our ... 14 Sep 2021 by Staff Writer

Bedside Reading Continues

Bedside Reading continues with an extra weekend of summer reads for the weekend of September ... by Staff Writer

‘Life Goes On’: John Melillo Reflects On East End Roots, Vietnam War In Solo Show

For John Melillo, Long Island is home — starting in the 1950s from the time ... by Michelle Trauring

18th OLA Film Festival Offers A Cultural Bridge

As a nonprofit organization, the primary mission of OLA (Organización Latino Americana) of Eastern Long ... 13 Sep 2021 by Annette Hinkle

Rocco Liccardi Remembers An Earlier Sag Harbor

When he was 10 years old in 1948, Rocco Liccardi — like others in his ... by Bryan Boyhan

‘Pandemonium — Nature and Time’

Noyac-based artists Mary Boochever and Keven Teare will be participating in “Pandemonium — Nature and ... by Staff Writer

Auction Of Tony Rosenthal Artwork

The personal collection of Southampton-based American sculptor Tony Rosenthal will make its first public appearance ... by Staff Writer

Southampton Arts Center Is Clearing The Air

Following a year of unique and unprecedented challenges, Southampton Arts Center’s, “Clearing The Air” is ... by Staff Writer

The Art Of Wearables

The Arts Center at Duck Creek is opening “Elizabeth Duffy: Wearing” on September 18, with ... by Staff Writer
logo

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported
Send this to a friend