Review of “Sex/Twist” at Kirk Hopper Fine Art

[Originally published in The Dallas Morning News]

Conceived by gallery director Liliana Bloch, this show is touted as an unvarnished visual treatise on love and sexuality that takes aim at 1950s stereotypes. Not only does the exhibition demolish notions of housewives vacuuming in heels, it also banishes any remaining vestiges of amour. The harsh glare of “truth” has supplanted Aqua Net hairdos and picture-perfect life in the suburbs.
Bloch invokes Michel Foucault to persuade us that societal norms are hackneyed clichés that sane people reject as parochial. Her point could have been made effectively if she had chosen her works more carefully. Instead, we’re given cheap shots that are a yawn.

Bryan Florentin’s Archive F is a triptych of sorts. Three framed images rest on the floor and lean against the wall, each on top of the next. The first reveals a muted ’50s-style projection screen of the kind once used for family home movies. Beneath it is an image of a bare male torso with unzipped trousers and a genital area blocked out with a white bar. Beneath that — you guessed it — is the “full monty.” It’s not shocking. It doesn’t possess enough inflection to startle or make outlaws of us. It’s a shepherd’s pie vs. chateaubriand. So why bother?

Debora Hunter’s Past, Present, Future Perfect Tense is a trilogy that begins with a happy couple. The husband is wearing a suit and tie and his wife is seemingly content to stand by her man. In the center we see only a shadow of the formerly happy gentleman. He’s absent. The third image provides insight into his departure. A child stands in his place and it’s clear that the woman’s affection has been transferred to her daughter. So much for Father Knows Best. He knows nothing at all; moreover, he’s vacated the premises. Babies are veritable libido squelchers, and life is too short to procreate when you can keep on honeymooning.

Sharon Engelstein’s contribution is dubbed Triplet, a white plastic inflatable piece situated on the gallery’s patio. Instead of the stridently drawn phallic images that served as plans for this “impressive” sculptural work, what appeared is a globular shape punctuated by breasts. The work was manufactured by the same folks who make the bobbing apes seen at car dealerships. The originally planned phallic piece was inadvertently left behind because of mislabeling and, thus, guests were treated to more yin than yang.

“Sex/Twist” is devoid of kaleidoscopic richness and, while I’m not lobbying for a Carmelite’s life, I do propose that what’s missing is another option: crazy, delicious, marvelous eros that most people agree makes the world spin rather than fizzle on its axis.

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