Stranger to Stranger

COOPER COLE is pleased to present a solo exhibition from Jenine Marsh, her first with the gallery.

Double blind. Mutant mallow smashed and squashed, then toasted until edges curl, blackened. Soggy flap. Fastened, taped, snapped shut, pinched ears and eyelids stuck fast. A mouth pinched into a puckering mask. Face forward. An ‘O’ pulled into an intestinal snake. Stacked and sliced. Hand-rolled stripes. Sitting sidelong. Shoe-bottom snowman scraped free and stretched into pocked, concrete skin. Racy fins. Rock face painted shut with diving board. Matchstick carton camp. Simpering lime. Polite hug.

Jenine Marsh has an interest in sudden stranger-to-stranger encounters, whether person-toperson, or materi- ally, thing-to-thing. Those peering, wary, knee-jerk, face-to-face reactions when mutual unfamiliarity is followed by the silent mechanics of sizing up the other. Even when sense is made, constructed, or reassembled by pulling a shared language out of seemingly thin air, what is unquestionably me, you, this, and that, remains ambiguous and strange. At the intersection of this stumbling, hit-or-miss improvisation of language and the similarly stop-and-start, baffled, burst of decision-making via the studio is where Marsh’s recent work begins.

Marsh’s frontal, facially-oriented facades seem to mimic those nerve-wracking blank spaces where one fumbles to connect with the other. What seems empty, blank-faced, wafer-thin, and trivial are interchangeable with temperature, tone, and half-formed (imagined) recognition. Strings of words are provisional bodies. Material action mimics action in speech. What seems to stick falls flat as perspective shifts.

Physical integrity is elusive and false: a slipped ‘tongue’ sneers independent of its ‘mouth’; a stack of limp, glazed-over sight-lines have no cause to see or feel their shared cylindrical ‘heads’; the mere flip and shift of a mantis-haunch pits prolapse against preen. To speak to, to read with, to speak of… No matter who encounters who via this face-to-face, stranger-to-stranger transmission, someone (or something) is changed.

The matter at hand matters elsewhere. Head, face, mind, ear, entrances and exits are mutually in pieces. Easily rolled up and folded neatly, then smoothed flat, creaking.

By Kim Neudorf

Jenine Marsh (b. 1984, Calgary, Canada) received her MFA from the University of Guelph in 2013 and her BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2007. Nationally, her work has been exhibited in numerous art venues including G Gallery, Toronto, ON; Ed Video, Guelph, ON; Truck Gallery, Calgary, AB, Struts Gallery, Sackville, NB and Stride Gallery, Calgary, AB. She has twice served as artist in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2009 and 2010, and other residencies include the Vermont Studio Centre in 2011, Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ Alberta Future Leaders programme, 2011 and Struts Gallery, 2010. Marsh lives and works in Toronto, Canada.

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COOPER COLE acknowledges the generous exhibition support from Johnson Trading Gallery.

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