Tanya Marcuse

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Artist’s Statement

Woven

The ancient Greeks imagined the machinery of fate as three women, weaving the lives of human and gods into an enormous tapestry, killing or giving life by snipping or knotting a thread. Through the medium of photography, in my new series Woven, I imagine myself introducing time and thus mortality, into the lush flora and fauna which make up the millefleurs backgrounds of medieval hunting and falconry tapestries. The 5 x 10 foot photographs sometimes take weeks to compose, and during this process of composition, of collecting, arranging, burning, painting, and transplanting, there is change. Flowers wither, spiders build webs, new shoots emerge, and corpses decay. Influenced both by the Dutch vanitas tradition and the allover graphic compositions of Jackson Pollock, I intend the photographs to be experienced as exquisitely detailed still lives when viewed from up close, but to hold together as a immersive, more abstract composition from further away. Although the pieces are all made on the same wooden frame and printed at the same scale, each photograph incorporates a distinct set of conceptual and visual ideas. Some are densely packed with rotting plant and animal life, and others more open, sprinkled with small brightly colored flowers or verdant moss. What is common to all, however, is a sense of opulence which verges on excess, a plenty which verges on plunder. In these elaborately artificial tableaux, the inexorable movements of nature are shown forth and growth and decay, beauty and terror, life and death are woven together.

Tanya Marcuse is an American photographer whose work explores transience among other ideas. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the George Eastman House, the Yale Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. She studied Art History and Studio Art at Oberlin and earned her MFA from Yale. She has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship, and has published three books with Nazraeli Press, Undergarments and Armor (2005), Fruitless (2007) and Wax Bodies (2012). She’s currently working on a book of Fruitless/Fallen/Woven with Radius Press. Her work is represented by the Julie Saul Gallery in New York City. She lives and works in the Hudson Valley and teaches Photography at Bard College.

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.

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