Mindy Solomon Gallery opens Explicit Content April 14 as a pre-cursor to tax day and a good reason to explore sexual expression. Explicit Content reveals “behind closed doors” perspectives on nudity and sexual activity as expressed by leading contemporaries not afraid to disclose social taboos in an “erotic” nature.
Explicit Content-Exploring the non-romantic nature of sex
The purpose of this show is to create a visual and sensory pictorial of the most intimate, yet unemotional aspects of human sexuality. Through the black and white photo journalistically inspired works of Los Angeles prostitutes by Scot Sothern, the sculptural couplings of Christina West, graphic video diaries by Barbara DeGenevieve, fantastical erotic drawings of Bart Johnson, and in your face photos by Becky Flanders, the show will plumb the depths of the most innate physical yearnings.
Artist Scot Sothern states: “LOWLIFE is an illustrated diary of dysfunction; the confessions of a befuddled baby-boomer maintaining a precarious connection to propriety and fatherhood while side-tripping into nourish infatuations. These stories and images, shot mostly in Southern California between 1986 and 1990 record the existence of the many disenfranchised Americans, men and women, hawking body and soul for the price of a Big Mac and a fix, struggling in a culture that deems them criminal and expendable.” Sothern’s images put a human face to the sex industry-one that defies judgment in the face of desperation, drug addiction, and instant sexual gratification. (Interview here).
Christina West’s figurations are depicted to be anatomically correct at a slightly smaller than normal scale. Their ghost like anonymity implies a level of dispassionate provocation. The highly charged erotic interplay forces the viewer to confront images of sexual arousal not often on display in the public forum.
Bart Johnson’s storied life is punctuated by a voyeuristic journey’s into the darkest realms of the human society. His visits to strip clubs and an interest in the marginalized members of society provide visual fodder for his endless array of eye-popping images. Johnson’s lurid, stream of conscious drawings push the viewer into a visual world of bizarre couplings. The graphic depictions are both repellent and disturbing-the idea of public sexual interactions as normative in a purgatory like environment references Hieronymus Bosch and the medieval notion of Hell. (Interview here).
Barbara DeGenevieve is the grand dame of erotica. Her ground-breaking, voyeuristic works reflect an independence and fearlessness in a world desperate to categorize and qualify. DeGenevieve reflects in her artist statement: “I have used sex as subject matter for more than 25 years in combinations of photographic images, videos, theoretical writings, and sexually explicit monologues. I often call my current work pornographic — when I don’t, I can always be sure someone else will. When I do, it becomes an unstable signifier. What does it mean for a middle-aged woman, a professor, a teacher of theory, a feminist – to write like this, to speak like this, to think these thoughts, to exhibit such bad behavior? I like playing with the vulgar, with the low-class, low-brow, language of traditional porn. I’m suspicious of distinctions that elevate erotica over porn as well as create incommensurability between art and pornography. I’m fascinated by what happens when private language and action enter the public domain, when vernacular “pornographic” vocabulary intersects with cultural analysis, when everything we believe about political correctness is subverted by intemperance, indulgence, desire out of control, and logical reasoning.
My work is not a critique, but rather an embracing of what has been vilified. It is also an acknowledgment of the ways in which pornography [locates/implicates] [me/us] in a realm of what Judith Butler has described as “psychic excess,” that which is systematically denied by the notion of the volitional subject. “The refusal to conflate the subject with the psyche marks the psychic as that which exceeds the domain of the conscious subject.” It is that realm of the unconscious she describes that that becomes so problematic, the consciously inaccessible that creates such turmoil because it compromises volition — what we think we are or what we’re told we should be. In a vain attempt to keep this excess under control, priests deny their obsession with little boys, evangelists with prostitutes, business executives with infantile humiliation fetishes, and feminists with rape fantasies. These are not accusations but rather recognition of the fact that fetishes, whether horrific or benign, become part of this psychic excess.”
Another young feminist striving to express an independent sexual spirit is Becky Flanders. Flanders often uses herself as subject, masking her face, so as to force the viewer to confront genitalia, and in some cases urination. Her uninhibited use of her own body as subject is a bold statement about freedom in sexual expression, and the ability to share it with an anonymous audience. Her spot on camera techniques provide a window into fetish like sexual practices and the viewer’s ability to digest them.
Explicit Content is show that explores raw human sexuality without apology. The works are provocative and dispassionate-a metaphor for the animal longings that are constantly at play within our society. Explicit Content opens Saturday, April 14, 6—8PM and will be on exhibition through May 19, 2012. Please note: we will be presenting material not suitable for young children and a XXX rating does apply. (Above, Bart Johnson).