Marianna Rothen, Fear of Fear from the series “Shadows in Paradise”, 2016, archival pigment print, diptych, 17″ x 17″ each.
If Barbara Loden directed a film using Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills, it would begin to approximate the photographs in Marianna Rothen’s recent “Shadows in Paradise” series, on view at Steven Kasher Gallery. The images elicit a sixties noir and depict women in various guises in isolated scenes of distress, eroticism, and introspection. The series’s title takes its name from Remarque’s 1971 novel; the book appears in one of the photographs, laid open across the lap of a distracted reader. Rothen’s use of it may reference the woman’s (or, more generally, women’s) feeling of a simultaneous absence and doubling in her life: that her identity and her body—physically and psychologically—are always circumscribed by social and cultural forces, so that she becomes two people, neither one of whom, perhaps, she recognizes. In one of the works, in which two photographs are set side by side, the image on the left shows a woman gazing out a window at an overturned chair, a dress, shoes, and a wig on the lawn; the image on the right shows the same scene, but the woman at the window now inhabits the dress and wig and lies prone on the ground, as though dead. Rothen has said that her photographs reference Persona, Three Women, and Mulholland Drive, and too often she wears those influences on her sleeve, but, to me, these are images that couldn’t have been made by a man. Rothen shows an appreciation for the subtle variations of women’s predicament that can only come from having known it herself. —Nicole Rudick
I don’t know whether it’s my favorite movie, but I do know Mulholland Drive is the only film I’ve ever seen twice in two days—as soon as I left the theater, I wanted to go back in. And I don’t know whether it’s my favorite moment in the movie, but I do know that when the mysterious woman in the Teatro Silencio opens her mouth and begins to sing in Spanish, and the song turns out to be “Crying,” and then she proceeds to sing the song in its entirety, I have never felt more satisfied, or more uncannily understood, by a work of art. And now, thanks to Beyond the Beyond: Music From the Films of David Lynch, edited by J. C. Gabel and Jessica Hundley, I know that Lynch has called this his favorite moment in all his films. Others may prefer the Woman in the Radiator from Eraserhead, or Dean Stockwell lip-syncing “In Dreams” in Blue Velvet, or the “Locomotion” scene in Inland Empire—as this lavishly illustrated compendium shows, nearly every film or show Lynch has made uses music to deep and mysterious effect. —Lorin Stein Read More