The large-scale images of flora and fauna in Tanya Marcuse’s new project, ‘Woven,’ are reminiscent of medieval tapestries. The ‘natural’ world that Marcuse depicts is in fact painstakingly crafted. The result is neither nature photography, nor a work of pure abstraction, but some commingling of the two.
- Dzana Tsomondo, PDN
click to open full review
At first glance, the New York photographer’s large, richly colored pictures of fruit rotting on the ground look like details of antique tapestries. Seesawing between the gorgeous and the grotesque, the work has more in common with Cindy Sherman’s mold and mucus landscapes. Marcuse’s densely packed images are just as wild and obsessive; despite their obvious, unnatural staging, they feel almost alarmingly out of control. Everything here is overripe and swarming. Cicadas, snakes, a bat, and a desiccated frog nestle among dead leaves, along with wrinkled, decaying apples as fleshy and pale as bloated corpses.
- Vince Aletti, The New Yorker
There’s something to be said for an impeccable still life, a carefully composed scene of blooming flowers and ripe, luscious food. But there’s a reason that the form’s name in French is nature morte: things that don’t move are either inanimate or dead. A long tradition of beauty springs from the well of decay.
- Jill Steinhauer, Hyperallergic
Marcuse’s photographs are ultimately more conceptual than narrative, and her references tend toward the painterly. Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights casts a long shadow — there’s even a snake slithering through one of her photographs. The tradition of vanitas paintings comes to mind as well, with overly ripe fruits and half-eaten treats symbolizing the impermanence of life and the inevitability of death.
- Jean Dykstra, Photograph Magazine
In ‘Fallen No. 182’ (2011) pomegranates, the ancient symbol of fecundity, lie split open and losing their seeds in a bed of grapes, plums and leaves—the reds, purples and greens reminiscent of Marie Cosindas’s palette, although the scale and subject are quite different.
- William Myers, The Wall Street Journal
But Marcuse’s images are not found elegance on an orchard ramble, but instead carefully crafted in situ sculptures made to be photographed. As a result, they have much more subtle visual harmony that your average shot of the ground, her order quietly visible in the arrangement of apparent randomness. In the hands of another, these scenes might have become exercises in bland decoration, but Marcuse’s compositions hum with crispness and discoverable detail.
- Loring Knoblauch, Collector Daily