All Clad: Some thoughts on Monique Crine’s Deerpark
by Anthony Graves
With Deerpark we encounter a selection of images with the desultory quality of snapshots, each resembling those family photographs we remember to forget by boxing away in our closets (or by “saving” them on our external hard drives). Monique Crine has decided to paint some while others are presented as photographic prints, and there appears to be no logic as to what might compel their maker to translate one into oil while retaining the photographic indexicality of another. So why should Crine make replicas from this selection of photographic sources, which her paintings do with a minimum of difference in surface facture, if not to produce from the secularizing photograph the semblance of the auratic icon in paint? Crine’s attention to likeness in her paintings suggest this iconization as do the titles that correspond to the given names of the individuals; each image centers its subject with the effect of luring the viewer into speculations that figure’s identity and psychic state. But do Crine’s photographic paintings merely appeal to our curiosity about their subject matter? Are there not some excesses that destabilize, consciously or unconsciously, this ability of painting to present its subject?
The sense that the photographs collectively form a domestic space intensifies the lure of speculative profiling that draws us in to the subject matter of the image. Among the two generations presented, Crine has chosen a boy with long hair, a girl with a short boyish cut, placing the boy outside and at a window, the girl appropriately inside where she can discover a brush and perhaps mirror . . . but what purchase on transgressivity do these normative gender reversals have today? Are they not as stable as the identities they pretend to negate? The painting Jeanie is instructive, perhaps the key to the exhibition: her bespectacled eyes are closed, implying that there are some interiors we cannot enter. This painting dominates the other works in both its scale and in its cinematic aspect ratio (the only other image that uses something close to this format, Zach, presents a similarly lidded subject), but the fact that the elderly woman appears twice and in two scales and media undermines any narrative dominance she might have within this family drama.
It is crucial to emphasize that the paintings bear resemblance to the photographic surface as opposed to the subject the photograph mechanically indexes. This suggests that it is the photographic medium itself, rather than the subject, that Crine’s paintings iconize. The casual family snapshot turns out to be a careful construction on the part of the artist that is then transferred into the rubric of the painted icon. Jeanie no doubt had the same 35mm framing of the other images, but Crine has extended the shadowed foreground on both sides creating two fields of black paint, perhaps the only space within the exhibition where paint is not in the service of dutifully indexing a something exterior to it, or used to produce the illusion of interiority.
When I look at Crine’s images I think of those implausible representations of nuclear families in mortgage lender ads so symptomatic of our social atomization. We all know that the smiling people in the advertisements are paid actors, yet the imago pulls at us nevertheless. It is telling then that the interim generation is absent from Deerpark rather than those elderly so often remaindered in the modern family. Crine conspicuously leaves these reassuring parental figures out of the scene, perhaps to subtly disrupt the ability of these icons to complete themselves as a model of domestic harmony.
The modern American image of Judeo-Christianity, of which the nuclear family was one representation, has been revealed to be what it was from the time of its alliance with late-capitalism, an idolatry of the image itself. Framing the subjects in Crine’s images, who each seem formally as well as psychically constricted within the pictures, are the encrustations of this bankrupt fantasy of the American good life: All-Clad cookware, wall-to-wall carpeting, Laura Ashley wallpaper, a lineup of skulls on the t-shirt of a guileless boy on sunny afternoon spent in suburban leisure. All make for good copy.
 For more along these lines see Sven Lüttiken’s book Idols of the Market: Modern Iconoclasm and the Fundamentalist Spectacle,