Arts+Leisure is excited to announce "I Can See the Wood for the Trees," a new solo project by Maria Marshall. Consisting of a video installation on two screens as well as a photograph, a sculpture, and a painting, the work presents “Thought,” an alter ego “super heroine” in the artist’s own image, amidst an immersive environment and soundscape.
Over the course of her career, Marshall has developed a unique and individualized approach to video. Much of her work draws from her children and the experience of motherhood, which she fuses with specialized film techniques and digital effects. Furthermore, much of her work functions as a deconstruction of film, with her framing of her subjects highlighting the roles and interplay of each constituent element.
"I Can See the Wood for the Trees" epitomizes Marshall’s video technique. Its enveloping soundscape (which uses a recording of her own son crying) and visual effects create an eerily immersive atmosphere in the gallery, resulting in a suspension of disbelief. One screen features a video of a tank pulling into a forest clearing, which then turns slowly toward the viewer; isolated within the frame, it bears an almost totemic power as an emblem of war. This disconnection heightens the sense of menace and uneasiness, lending a surreal, dreamlike quality to the imagery. The soundscape of gunshots, explosions, and a crying baby alludes to war and its consequences, though the viewer is led to draw their own connections between the deconstructed elements of the video and their real-life parallels.
The second video, positioned across from the other, presents a contrary motif. Marshall’s character “Thought,” who she acts out herself, appears in the center of the frame, painting invisible brush strokes that correspond to the outline of the tank. She appears stoic as bullets fly around around her, and as “Thought” moves the brush, the image of the tank on the opposite screen begins to disappear. In Marshall’s own words, the character can “infiltrate minds and replace thoughts,” and in this case has the ability to neutralize the threat of the tank. The theme of motherhood is suggested by the crying doll held by Marshall, and through this lens the installation can be viewed as a meditation on their protective nature. However, the open-ended nature of the work evades a singular definition or interpretation, and its pattern of deconstruction applies to both its thematic and formal content. Enlisting advanced special effects techniques reminiscent of Hollywood blockbusters, "I Can See the Wood for the Trees" appears simultaneously hyper-realistic and uniquely otherworldly, at once familiar and unknown. There is further contrast between the apparent powerlessness of the mother before the force of war and her ability to remove its possibility from her and her child.