Dragon's Back 
14 riso prints monotone, 7 riso prints duotone
207 × 222.5 cm
Dragon Dragon

DRAGON'S BACK consists of a photograph of the eponymous pressure ridge belonging to the San Andreas Fault about 200 kilometres from Los Angeles. “Dragon’s Back” is the sole clearly perceptible trace of this tectonic fault and forms the boundary between the North American and Pacific continental plates that annually drift circa 3.4cm past each other. The permanent erosive force of tectonics is revealed overground in the furrows along the Earth’s mantle, it appears as a trace of geological time, as a visible contact in the middle of the desert landscape of the slow movement of Earth time and human time.
Marianna Christofides’s large-format wall piece consists of 21 individual risograph prints assembled into a fragmented text and image structure concerning the San Andreas Fault. The motif is an enlarged reproduction of a 1982 press photograph that is emblematic for the earthquake-endangered region and was used in numerous newspaper accounts on earthquakes. The enlarged grainy prints not only make the retouching of the picture surface carried out at that time visible but they also present the fault in an almost tactile, relief-like manner that reflects the furrowed surface of the earth. The Earth’s violent forces are shown as its vulnerability and wound.
Quatrains are superimposed on several of the prints at the edges of the wall piece; the text virtually seems to grow from out of the fault. In the process, the verses in their trisyllabic rhythm likewise follow a sequence of stressed and non-stressed syllables. The depicted views and scenes are as fragile and fragmentary as the translocated underground. The tectonic of the Earth and the tectonic of the verses break down in parallel. And at the same time, the furrows and breaks determine the reading of the lines for the viewer. The piece defines human experience as something that is always fundamentally determined by the Earth’s literally subterranean, murmuring forces. In the agreement of rugged earth, volatile poetry and fragmentary pictorial composition, the work draws a picture of the instability of the spatial experience in the face of the asynchronous relationship between terrestrial environment and the individual, of the time-transcending internal structure of the Earth and present-day subjectivity.

Baptist Ohrtmann in Marianna Christofides, Parkfield Studies, Temporary Gallery Cologne, 27.05.–30.07.2017