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Maria Marshall
Still from Puzzle Fit
at Salon 94

I will be five on the 23rd of September. I want a scale-electric and a dinosaur puzzle 'cause Jake put it down the floor boards

Still from When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Cooker
'Tis a Puzzlement
by Charlie Finch

Maria Marshall: Puzzle Fit, Apr. 4-May 7, 2003, at Salon 94, by appointment, at 12 East 94th Street, New York, N.Y. 10128.

Maria Marshall's brand new DVD Puzzle Fit opened at Manhattan's hottest space, Salon 94, in cooperation with Team Gallery, last Friday night.

The 40ish frizzy blonde artist greeted the elite, as her complex Rubik's Cube of a video screened at Jeanne and Nicolas Rohatyn's casbah on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Fans of Ms. Marshall are now conditioned to seek out signs of anxiety in the projections of her two subjects, her two sons, one wild, one shy. In fact, recently Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, a young mother herself, purchased Ms. Marshall's signature work, a DVD of her young son defiantly smoking.

In Puzzle Fit, Maria concentrates on the girls, setting up a London disco, and miking a brace of prepubescent females, á la Britney Spears. Segments of girlish chitchat join together, as puzzle pieces, mesmerizing the spectator through hundreds of short viewings, like a muzzah in a souk.

Here is the tall girl, a future supermodel, choosing an immature boy named Thomas for a homely friend, as a self-conscious but sympathetic black girl tentatively adjusts her nappy hair.

Already, these young females, in contrast with the transparently immature boys among them, are creating a hierarchy of sensual desire -- but each will ultimately have her place, and her female vanity.

Those, like this writer, conditioned by Ms. Marshall's past pieces and by her copious comments thereon, will spot the temporal, maternal terror that drives her creativity [for details, see the Team Gallery website]. But, she cannot deny the transcendent beauty she achieves, with which her many fans so viscerally identify.

It's a contradiction, but one we pleasurably live with, as we push her to new cliffs and new horizons.

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