October 2012, by Martin Herbert, Frieze magazine
A slim black metal rail ran round the walls of Marie Angelettiâ€™s debut solo show, â€˜Mixed Feelingsâ€™. Fixed at the midway point, this minimalist dado traversed the boxy ingress where press releases are stacked, crossed the glassed frontage and created a limbo bar blocking the office. Attached, in various configurations â€“ alone, or in pairs and triplets that sometimes felt logical, sometimes didnâ€™t â€“ were 13 coolly composed photographs by Angeletti, a recent RCA grad who was selected for â€˜New Contemporariesâ€™ last year. Maybe the steel-framed images were magnetized and easily movable; certainly it seemed as though they could have been pushed like beads on an abacus, reordered like beads on a thread. Given its inconveniencing quality, this wasnâ€™t just an eye-catching response to questions of display. What Angeletti wants to foreground, right off the bat, is instability and modularity as they play out within, and between, supposedly indexical images.
Some of hers look found and re-photographed, some donâ€™t. One would hazard that, here, editorial photographs mixed with in-house documentation of objects for auction and Angelettiâ€™s self-shot photos, though part of her workâ€™s low-watt vexation is that we donâ€™t always know which is which. Mf 1 VA Jewellery 01, 02 and 03 (all 2012), clustered together in a three-part aerial view of a jewellery display, deploy a sumptuous yet hard, contrasty look whose Avedon-ish tones are suggestive of a 1960s magazine advertisement. On its own, with its elegant wristbands, gilded butterfly brooches, necklaces, bracelets and combs neatly arrayed, itâ€™s a bit of a puzzler: a sort of mutely retro take on Christopher Williams. But when the image beside it, Mf4, Urara yellow (2012), features a Japanese girl in red underwear looking melancholically past us, we may start thinking about geishas even though the subject isnâ€™t quite inherent in either image. It precipitates softly between them, in a sort of mutual tincturing. (See the showâ€™s title.)From here the exhibition extrapolated, associated and unravelled smoothly. There were more Japanese signifiers and more historical ones.Mf11, VA s_141 (2012) zooms in on the lower halves of three women in short skirts and heels, holding geometrically patterned leather handbags. Mf8 Brazaville Coll. 01 and Mf9, Brazaville Coll. 02 (both 2011) feature the same museum examples of ivory figures, including a squat laughing Buddha, under â€“ somewhat literalist this, perhaps â€“ shifting combinations of pinkish-purple light. Mf10, Auction Catalogue 01 (2012) stars another figurine, this one a semi-recumbent woman stretching out her arms and holding what appears to be a tambourine; the figure is obscurely contextualized with a lamp, an ersatz spotlight. (Something to do with a graphic design snafu in an auction-house catalogue, it would appear.) Dancers, or performing women, recur inMf13, Ballerina (2012).
If one were looking to tie this work down via iconography (precisely the wrong approach), one might be tempted to see Angeletti as here pursuing a semi-oblique feminist agenda orbiting around performance, role-play, adornment, containment.