Malerie MarderUntitled (1998-2000)

She explores the psychosexual undertow in close relationships by photographing herself and friends and family in the nude, often in seedy settings such as pay-by-the-hour motels.

Matilda Battersby on Marder’s Carnal Knowledge exhibition

If you only consider her ethos, Marder is exactly the sort of image maker you’d be right to think might motivate me to quit my job, sell all my possessions and become a disciple.

And as much as I love half her work, there’s a prevailing theme of contrite ars gratia artis–as if transgression (or perversity, in the best sense of that word) needs to necessarily be couched in the framework of fine art if it is to be worthy of contemplation.

Marder tends to be less careful in considerations for propriety when it comes to including herself in her work. There is certainly a nobility to that tact, but it does a disservice to her work. Although it’s not a conversation that seems to be percolating, anywhere with her work, I get the feeling Marder has more in common with vextape than Philip-Lorca diCorcia. (There’s zero value judgment in that statement; merely a reflection of the sad fact that our culture has seen fit to lavish praise on a fixation with sexuality that takes a more pathological, apersonal approach while banishing more experiential, personal work preoccupied with graphic depictions of sexuality to the realm of pornography.)

I guess what I am really trying to point to is that with only a few exceptions, the works that move me–and the above is absolutely fucking exquisite–is the work where there’s a greater concern for presenting the underlying truth with brutal, unblinking honesty.

I sort of not-so-secretly wish Marder would set out to make pornography, at least once in her career because I am certain the results would be nothing short of revolutionary.

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