False Replicas: Leo Marz’s Dead Ringers at Steve Turner Contemporary
by: Serena Qiu
October 24, 2012
This first U.S. exhibition by Monterrey-based Leo Marz boasts of the artist’s familiarity and dexterity in manipulating cultural imagery and text. Dead Ringers is a multi-part and poly-media exhibition at Steve Turner Contemporary that adopts the moods and spaces of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 haunting thriller Vertigo. The very title of this show is a clever evocation of parallel meanings—of homage, of representational art, of the movie’s themes.
By self-definition, Marz makes conceptual multimedia art that is deeply enmeshed in story-telling while inspecting the story being told. His own artistic vocabulary is replete with words taken from film and music (two art forms that Marz also wields with experience). In a description of his own work, Marz once said “the discourse in each piece that I make works as a sort of MacGuffin since [it] functions like [an] excuse to establish relations between the involved variables.” The thematic lines drawn between the works are the privileged subject in his pieces. This is perhaps why Marz, who also curates, commissions other artists to make pieces for his installations or exhibitions. Other times, his works are the result of collective participation with the artist himself acting as an instrument or an aid in the realization of a larger action.
In a way that has become characteristic of Marz’s work, Dead Ringers is a gathering of multiple carefully crafted and distinct pieces that take part of the same narrative. Marz presents two paintings based on a film still of the loaded moment in Vertigo during which Kim Novak’s Madeleine looks at the painting of Carlotta Valdes in a museum. Marz has the two works painted by identical twins in a wry play on the meaning of duplication. The show also includes projected images of text paintings Marz commissioned of other artists. According to Marz’s instruction, each of these bears a short description of a film, all of which are intended to doubly function as interchangeable synopses for Vertigo. Marz then burned the original works and the photographic slides are all that remain.
The third part of the exhibit provides the connecting thread of the exhibition: two wooden boxes titled Gimmick and Fake. These respectively contain documentation of the two Vertigo paintings’ provenance along with hair and blood samples of their creators, and a set of the projected slides and the ashes of the burned paintings. More than a witty gesture, the titling of these boxes also suggests the complexity of Marz’s craft. The sole tie to fact or truth for these referential reproductions is teasingly tangible, but incapable of real verification—a display of the MacGuffin in its full magnificence.
Dead Ringers is on view at Steve Turner Contemporary until November 10, 2012.
For more information on the artist, click here.