Solo exhibition of works by Brooklyn-based artist Cathleen Clarke at Margot Samel
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Solo exhibition of works by Brooklyn-based artist Cathleen Clarke at Margot Samel
Detail, Cathleen Clarke, Hallow's Eve, 2023. Photo: Pierre Le Hors.

NEW YORK, NY.- Margot Samel is now going to start The Night Grows Long, a solo exhibition of works by Brooklyn-based artist Cathleen Clarke. The Victorian Era begins in the West with the reign of Queen Victoria and spans the 1800’s, where few things more haunting emerged than that of the role and spirit of the child. Across The Night Grows Long, Cathleen Clarke’s first solo exhibition with Margot Samel, concepts of the child, the threshold of girlhood, one’s proximity to mortality, and transformations of the unconsciousness of youth, are all taken up generations later in the wake and fallout of this odd and haunting history.

In Wrong Side of the Bed a young girl in a nightdress seems to slide out of a window, headfirst towards a carpeted patterned ground. Green hands emerge from a darkened elsewhere to her left, grabbing her legs and torso. Are they stabilizing her in her playful handstand, encouraging the mischief, or pulling her back into a darker dream-world, out of consciousness and out of frame?

Perhaps both: as industrialization accelerated during the nineteenth century, children were viewed as a human resource– crucial to the labor class. Widely distributed accounts of this growing workforce detailed gruesome conditions of many of their everyday lives. In parallel, an emerging genre of children’s literature –and therein the Victorian child as literary subject– held many of these living and working conditions taken to be self-evident up to a mirror for re-articulation in the curious if not vulnerable eyes of the child. Born only 15 years prior to Lewis Carroll’s iconic books Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, Sigmund Freud would watch the fallout of these societies struggling with their conceptions of childhood, and develop his influential theories of psychoanalysis, where he believed personality was most critically defined in early developmental stages. The positioning of the child as a concept, between fantasy and reality, and the fetishization and friction of its seemingly infinite distance from mortality, is what Clarke traces with her paintings –rich with historic reverberation– up to our contemporary present.

–Emily Small

Margot Samel
Cathleen Clarke: The Night Grows Long
January 19th, 2023 – February 24th, 2024
Opening reception: January 19, 6–8pm

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