Residency Unlimited

How to Disappear, Ways of Showing Up

Graphic design by Blanche Marechal

Exhibition Dates: July 5 –  7, 2024

Opening Reception: Saturday, July 6, 2024 | 11am-5pm

Location: RU House at Colonels Row, Building #404B on Governors Island

Ferry information | Video directions to RU House

At the occasion of the July 4th weekend, RU is thrilled to feature new work by RU team members and artists  Marco Michel (Residency Coordinator) and Tom Lescure (Residency Program Intern), presenting How to Disappear, Ways of Showing Up, a painting group exhibition that interrogates the expression of existence, presence, and anonymity. The artists strongly embody the duality of taking place and hiding, a constant tension between visibility and invisibility. Whether thrust into the spotlight, forcibly or voluntarily, the characters seem to be hidden behind anonymous realities, disappearing into a silent everyday life. Masks fall or take their place, and the canvases impose their presence upon us. What a strange eclipse. How does one find their place, on which side of the curtain should one stand to play their role in the theater of life? “How to Disappear, Ways of Showing Up” invites each visitor to reflect on their own existence and the ways they choose to show up or hide.


RU Exhibition: How to Disappear, Ways of Showing UpClick above to see images from the opening reception.

Tom Lescure paints his intimate; his paintings are the results of moments of introspection, questioning the very essence of portraiture and what should be revealed or concealed. What emerges are strange, silent presences, as if absorbed in internal contemplation. Tom enjoys playing with the ambiguity of his subjects, sometimes familiar, sometimes total strangers, all placed in vaguely defined spaces, akin to internal empty rooms, more or less figurative. New York has allowed him to delve even deeper into this contemplation; the experience of being an expatriate has resulted in portraits of strangers encountered in subways or streets (When people think you are lost don’t tell them it’s not true, Morning doubts). But Tom further blurs his representations by introducing more complex imagery, notably with the peculiar depiction of the poet Frank O’Hara (Hear me Talk but never Speak), another local “stranger” whom Tom studied during his time in New York. What binds his paintings together are these blue curtains that feature prominently in the backgrounds, a motif previously explored, notably in Curtains so High! . These curtains cover a potential background and seem to hide something; all his representations thus find themselves in a sort of shared metaphysical space, akin to being backstage, perhaps at Marco’s circus. The idea of anonymity and modesty/decency is then carried in dualism with the intention of a portrait, still confronting the viewers nonetheless.

Marco Michel is a multimedia artist who seeks to capture drama and whimsy in her playful and expressive portraiture. Ostensibly campy and belonging to a highly stylized world of her imagination, Marco’s works in this series seek to capture the essence of femininity as masquerade—a performance that requires both disappearing and showing up. A stark contrast to Tom’s intimate subjects residing behind the curtain, Marco’s feminine, clown-like characters take center stage, enticing the gaze of viewers while challenging them to decipher their inner state and determine the extent to which their gaze is welcomed. Underneath the mask of almost caricature-like flamboyance, Marco’s subjects present an ambiguous duality in their appearance—neither happy nor sad, neither fully obscured nor fully discernable. What they all share is a keen sense of awareness of being seen by the spectator, which might lead one viewer to perceive unfettered confidence while another detects shame. The tension and the irony created by this paradox is palpable—why perform if you don’t want to be watched? Why paint your face like a clown if you don’t want to be ridiculed? Presenting this duality compels viewers to reflect on the conditions that necessitate performance in relation to femininity and the suspension of disbelief required by both the surveyor and the surveyed. 

Neither realistic nor abstracted, Marco’s paintings—much like her subjects—belong to a chasm in between reality and idealized fantasy, calling into question the contradictory nature of existing to perform or performing to exist.



Graphic design by Blanche Marechal.


RU is grateful for the partnership with Governors Island Arts.

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