Wednesday, June 24, 2009
SKIN: SCENES OF TORTURE AND WRESTLING AND SEX (2005) is a series of twenty works begun in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison revelations. This is not a political work in the traditional sense: I’ve no interest in tut-tuting. It is more of a psychological game. On the surface, the three activities in the title appear to be unrelated, yet the base images bear such a striking resemblance to one another that one is prompted to recognize the root commonality that places wrestling on a continuum with sex and sex on a continuum with torture. But from this root of human interaction repression grows in one direction and perversion grows in another. ¶ At first I was just riffing on the ham-handed (and pre-pixilated) use of sleazy black bars by the gossip and crime tabloids to protect the anonymity of the famous and the felonious, which always rendered what was already provocative, if somewhat cheesy content, into something far more lurid. And while the layered white dots began as a (perhaps too) gentle razzing of Damien Hirst and John Baldessari at their most air-headed, they assume the sweet and calming innocence of fluttering falling snow as imagined by a small child. ¶ Yet as the individual works progressed, I realized that taken together they posed a challenge to the viewer to classify each pile of tangled limbs into its proper area. Interestingly, anyone who has seen the work in it totality invariably got the imagery confused and the categorization all wrong. This caused no end of public consternation and plenty of private angst: I was thrilled!