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Justine Kurland
Explorer (Floyd, Virginia)
at Gorney Bravin & Lee

Justine Kurland
Frog Swamp (Covington, Louisiana)

Maria Marshall
Theresa's Story
dvd still
at Team Gallery

Maria Marshall
President Bill Clinton, Jan. 19, 1993
still image
at Team Gallery
Signs of Life on 26th Street
by Charlie Finch

Justine Kurland, Mar. 17-Apr. 14, 2001, at Gorney Bravin & Lee, 534 West 26th Street, New York, N.Y. 10001.

Maria Marshall, Mar. 17-Apr. 14, 2001, at Team, 527 West 26th Street, New York, N.Y. 10001.

Justine Kurland is basically Gregory Crewdson with talent.

Her subject is as old as time: the female wolf pack, Diana and the Nyads, turning the male gaze to stone, driving Ulysses and his crewmen into slavery.

Slivers of irony trickle into the leafy pastoral the Justiniennes inhabit -- a woman drinks pond water near an expressway, frogs dangle from female fingers, a pig roasts on a pit Survivor style.

Kurland's slyness surpasses the lead-footed Crewdson, and she's far more effective compositionally than her mentor.

One exceptional piece follows a raft of femmes, led by a male slave into a deep vulvic gorge. There is a flat, impersonal equivalence to the figures, which recalls Puvis de Chavannes' fresco style and his suggestions of mystical inscrutability.

Kurland succeeds in blending her visual elements into a seamless web, and the cruise ship configuration of Gorney Bravin & Lee suits her stuff just fine.

Across 26th Street, Team gallery is equally suitable as a videodrome -- benches and sofas neatly divided by black curtains comfortably showcase three videos by Maria Marshall concerning the essence of life.

One features a delightful little fellow meditating in his playpen. A second follows, with lapsed time videography, a group of children filling and unfilling a Romanesque room with boxes and wrapping (to a soundtrack of Bill Clinton speaking of the value of work). The third follows the pulse of a woman in a white dress from toe to head.

Repeated viewings of the three productions in the dark confines of Team produce a giddy sense of joy leavened with anxiety, a ceasing to care about what it all means and just be.

Fall asleep on the couch in the cool bosom of a video elixir. Marshall's images are sweetly arresting, and, really, isn't that all we want from our art these days?

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).