Y Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of Norma Markley’s recent work—neon, silkscreen prints, and sewn drawings—inspired by the rhythm and language from literary sources and images from a film to explore the notions of sex, on the one hand, and the concept of answering questions with a yes or no, on the other hand.
Fade in. Fade out (neon and cutout words). “I love you tenderly, totally, tragically” references Jean Luc Godard’s film Contempt. These words in neon accompanied by cutout text set a romantic but fragile scene: a long take between husband and wife lying apart in bed sharing sweet nothings. We never see them embrace or kiss. She (questioning him): “See my feet in the mirror? Think they’re pretty?” … Him (answering breathlessly): “Yes.”
Point of view sequences (silkscreens). Sex is explored both humorously and erotically through a series of silkscreen prints of statuary photographed from the movie and overlaid with text from various literary sources. Each phrase commenting on sex follows the word SEX on each print. As Warhol wrote in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol from A to Z, “sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets anyway.”
Brief cut to still shots (neon and sewn drawings). The producer from the film “answers questions by quoting from a small volume he carries with him, ending his sentences with the demand ‘Yes or no?!’” The nuances of language do not seem to exist for him. In David Mamet’s play The Cryptogram, there are 271 instances of “yes” or “no” dialogue. A neon piece and sewn drawings of erotic couples are titled with yes or no variations and indirectly analyze this concept.
Norma Markley’s new work continues to explore the potential of dialogue and image. She has now added film to her palette, with its power bringing private moments to the fore.