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  Time Lapse: A Meditation
By: Ian Brockway – 2015 
  Roberta Marks’ new exhibition “Time Lapse” is a laser in black projecting a singularity of purpose, a space for her objects to speak. Each work is a satellite of memory.

Although known for her visual work, Marks can also be thought of as a creator of verbal realms and stories so charged, each assemblage is laced with gravity.

First off, placed in center stage is the eerie and spectral “Put a Band-Aid on It.” An ivory child’s dress hovers along a sable sea, encircled by tiny black shoes that resemble melancholy puffs of thought drifting off into a space that is speckled with silver oxide paint – a kind of space age measles that puts us in the cabinet of this enigmatic girl. A primitive drawing floats about showing a child being punctured. There is a thermometer in a bottle along with a mysterious picture ID. A Band-Aid sticks, suddenly stuck in orbit as if stilled in its healing act by the soreness of recollection. We do not know who this child is, but we sense the familiar. The negative space of the dress fills into a cherished child that our sisterly association may supply. The black space and the white dress might well suggest a film haunting but associations can mingle anywhere like the touch of perfume.

In “A Remote Village: India 2011” a class blackboard is inscribed with transparent writing. A ruler is sheathed at an angle like a samurai sword, to instruct and propel us forward, most likely, but also perhaps to attack students with force and unwanted rigor, given the harsh plainness and utility of this wooden board and the solemn bearing of its square as if to say, “Here is your shot. Learn or else.” Though found in India, this board might well be in an American Catholic school, so rigid is its intent. As if in confirmation of this, the top of the board is notched like a gun barrel.

In “Marc’s Atelier” a collection of artist materials are thrown in a zinc white vacuum and held in a suspension of want and pensive thought. Each pastel, pen or crayon has the exoticism of a faraway insect under Parisian amber. There is a sadness here, yet there is also a hope too. Perhaps these graphic dragonflies will leap into the hands of another to sprout new visions.

The sadness though, is laced with celebration. Observe “Adieu France.” A charmed and battered case is full to overflowing like so many billet-doux. There is a smack of Chaplin’s vaudeville in the overlarge suitcase, as if to hint that the owner alone has known its exclusive Bohemian secrets and is ready to shove off to other comedies, now grander.

The condition of Charlie Hebdo is ruminated upon in “Continuation” where a Hebdo montaged background is underneath a huge and impenetrable black ink square. This is as much a call to draw as it is a remembrance of the tragic and recent terror attack. The ruby red pen at the very top (again like a sword) is at the ready as if to transform some collaged gun barrels into silly putty.

In what is probably the most playful work, “La Noire Pluie” an umbrella is held aloft, half folded like a thoughtful bat under a field of lace. Though all is tightly compressed, a voluptuous texture is present suggesting calligraphy from a Gothic valentine. This piece with its long pendulous lace, displays black with a subversively affectionate possibility – mementos left from a love-lost, yet hopeful Poppins, or a racy Rapunzel.

Though often rich and leaden with imagery, a simplicity resides. In “Prayers for Thay” a heavy scroll hangs like a medicinal bandage under glass.

Above all else, Marks strips the color black of its Catholic weight. It is not a hue of sadness and sin, but as in “Continuation” and “Back to the Drawing Board” it is a charge to action.

Like her apothecary bottles contained in “Café St. Martins,” Marks’ preserved ruminations works hover like mental fireflies. The seemingly dense black backgrounds become a conjuring trick.

In the end, black is the artist’s magic photo box where we create our own Cimmerian stages, either in the shape of a haunt, a sadness, or better yet, in the hope of moving forward.