The vertical lines of factories electrify the sparse mechanical sensibility of Mark Manders, even as the DMA’s gallery space is drained of color to fit this factory’s demand for the weird: sundry dog-creatures, a black cat split in half, mice in odd places, and limbless human figures frequently sliced into vertical planks.
The dynamics of parts forming a whole — particularly dual parts – infuses Manders’ work with a certain privacy that is sometimes very solitary, sometimes quite romantic, but always intimate. In “Nocturnal Garden Scene,” the most talked about work in the exhibition, a black cat is cut in half as if in a magic trick, the gap between its front and back parts loosely marked by a rope tied from two upright bottles. The entire work is painted a singular black. On the one hand, there’s a sadness and shock when the viewer realizes that this was indeed a living cat (the lady next to me whispered, “That’s a real cat!”); on the other, its night-vision implications play host to a kind of reverence when you look at this piece (I think that’s why the lady whispered). The two halves of the cat suggest a magnetism that isn’t quite close enough or light enough to pull together, like a doomed romance.
There are many arresting images/experiences like that in this show, and many will confuse you with fragments of normalcy: piles of clothes on the floor next to an empty chair, teabags (though these formulate some sort of musical language next to what looks like a victrola), good dogs laying down (or are they dead? Canine embryos? These are amorphous dogs, the dogesque, if you will).
Your sense of proportion will also be tampered with.
I recommend seeing Gaultier first, then speeding straight up the concourse into this Mark Manders show – that’s a one-two punch of extremes that will fuck with your head in a very fun way.
Mark Manders: Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments was curated in Dallas by Jeffrey Grove. It runs through April 15that the Dallas Museum of Art.
This blog is Don’t Look. Okay Look.
Betsy Lewis is a writer in Dallas and a cog in the machine.