Words about Marina

On ‘When the Room Becomes Water’. Spotlight review by an artist & a contributing writer
to the B & W Magazine Larry Lytle. Black & White Magazine, April 2016


Marina Black, b&w magazine, April 2016

Marina Black, b&w magazine, April 2016


On ‘When the Room Becomes Water’. Photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly, December 2014

‘In this series, Black’s distressed black and white self portraits are a personal psychological investigation catalyzed by the effects of intense and intimate loss. While literally stitching herself together, Black explores aspects self awareness, revelation, and catharsis in her images…’ – See the full interview at: http://blog.photoeye.com/2014/12/portfolio-interview-marina-black-on.html#sthash.vUfJmHlj.dpuf


On installation/projection VV-section  for the NUIT BLANCHE festival in Toronto, Canada. Banuta Rubess, Toronto playwright and director, October 2015:

‘…fulsome praise for VVsection, an extraordinary piece by Marina Black and other people from the Centre for Drama [UfT]- I could have watched it 100 times. A stunning mixture of nightmarish photography, projections, perfect music and movement, and really clever lighting. It was worth all the crowds and all the walking’



CONTACT Toronto Photography Festival, May 2010


Marina Black’s conceptual project The Versts* is inspired by an anthology of poems of the same name written by the Russian poet, Marina Tsvetaeva. Black questions the authority and veracity of the photograph and chronicles its ability to transform time, memory and reality. By reconfiguring images of her homeland, Russia, and those of her family and friends, she challenges the accuracy of photography as a means of personal and historical documentation. Currently based in Toronto, the artist examines the concept of national identity as a constructed image mediated through photography.

Black uses stained films, blurred exposures, cutting and collaging techniques, and juxtaposes images with handwritten texts, to question the nature of photographic representation. Rejecting the traditional documentary practice of realistically portraying people and places, her images tend toward abstraction. By means of this process, the artist creates a dynamic between photographs of Russia, her memory of the nation, and her personal identity. Black’s artworks spiritually and emotionally evoke the idea of personal experience. She asks us to consider whether photographic images can become more real than one’s actual experience of a place.



By writer and art critic Peter Goddard “Toronto Star”  – Oct 28, 2010

art toronto


Review of the series of photographs ‘The Versts (Версты)’ by Mike Hoolboom, Canadian artist & critic working in film and video, 2010


Could her name really be Black? The signature behind all those dark pictures, the ones which refuse at least as much as they are willing to show, is a darkness jingled across the country time and again in hopes that the family might restage itself as national smile. Never mind the words which should never be spoken, Blacks is photography. There are few sunny smiles in Marina’s colourless pictures, instead great swaths of darkness cut into the light, holding their secrets, curling up into their own unspoken interiors. Her photographs offer us this darkness, insisting that the silvery apparitions which rise up out of it are temporary and contingent. The orthodox face, the ribboned bugle blower, the Bosnian caught in a frieze in her own hallway: these are only the apparent subjects of her pictures. The root of this looking, the swarming gravity that each halide moment longs to return to, is in the pools of darkness that sometimes surround or enframe, and sometimes more boldly occupy the centre of the picture enterprise.

Her camera is drawn to the people around her, and even when they are photographed in their own home, they seem like they have been drawn up in a moment of passing. What is it exactly I am feeling in those eyeless eyes, the hands folded away out of frame? I will never wear this face again, I will never return to this place. Some photographers offer us monuments and icons. It must be this way forever, their silver is a headline, a feature of the natural landscape. But Marina operates in a different neighborhood. Her pictures plumb a moment and exhaust it, each picture touches the roots of its subject, or the place between her and her subject, and when it comes up out of the underground the picture appears as an offering and a death mask. Everything is ending and transforming, and driving toward death. Here, take a look at my face. Can’t you tell?

Not forever and ever, but just this once. Like this. Contingent and small. And for each look-at-me moment, there are a hundred don’t-look-at-me’s. Marina’s darkness (her black) preserves something of the mystery of her subjects, they are not opened to us the way a surgeon would view the body, but instead offer an invitation (and challenge) to the viewer to embrace what cannot be shown. Two children sit together, posed for reproduction, the older one, stage manager and big sister, looks cannily into the future, while the younger one ventures a distracted glance past any act of seeing at all. Her time will also come, but it is not here, not in this room, not now. She is not ready to show herself, the picture offers only her blank surface of refusal. Doubling the stakes, Marina photographs this photograph, making it appear as part of a personal archive. This lost time gathers itself in the distracted gaze (which is visible), and the darkness which surrounds the two girls, and which, in turn, surrounds the photograph itself. It is a ripple of blacks, cascading in layers from the very heart of the picture, to beyond its frame, and then beyond the frame of its frame. Until death do us part.

Still another picture offers the front of a white house with a stamped shape cut out of it, underlining or drawing attention to, the front door. The stamp is in the shape of a keyhole, or a question mark, but inside this aperture, cut roughly from the original picture, one can see only further details of surface, and at the heart of that surface lies again a dark rectangle. To point at the place of the secrets, to show a face that has lived past its expiry date, what intimacy and beauty (is that a word we can still use? One which evokes the real terror of looking at beautiful places and people.) there is in abundance here. The picture offers an approach, not an arrival. The mystery lies just beyond this door. I will show you the way, but you have to get there, you have to cross over, by yourself.

Her new project, which proposes a ghost return to her homeland in order to follow the unmapped nomadologies of her once familiar life, seems ready made for her black pictures. How else to look with a double vision, through eyes that once lived there, and the new eyes that belong to neither here nor there? This is a rich, complicated, troubled, place of blackness, from which Marina will be able to draw still more dark beauty in the faraway so close place of home.


Erin Lucuik, Mass Art Guide, May 2010.

“… Although they say a picture is worth a thousand words, a photograph can render its viewer speechelss from its ability to express those things that cannot be conveyed through text along. The work of Marina Black at once questions the accuracy of the photograph and ask the viewer to consider it as a truer depiction of the past that both text and memory.
In “The Versts (Версты)”, Black’s exhibition at  XEXE gallery for the CONTACT Photography festival, she tells of her journey that began…”


“ONE BLACK CUBED” at G+Galleries, Toronto, Canada

Review by Canadian art critic and writer Gary Michael Dault. in the national newspaper “The Globe and Mail”  (Saturday, November 24, 2007)

“… Right now at G + Galleries — there is an entirely delicious little exhibition of Good Edition black and white photos called One Black Cubed.  … Marina Black’s shot of very distant Moscow skyline – reduced almost to a line slung across a plane – is the single most enjoyable photograph I have seen in years…”