Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What F Word? There's usually only one...

The "F Word." It brings many connotations to mind-- primarily that of something unspeakable.

Interestingly enough, in the art world, just as in many other "occupations" there's the glass ceiling for those lacking a certain... well... how do you say... "something."

Curated by Carol Cole Levin, "What F Word" brought together some of the top young female artists in the art world today at Cynthia Broan Gallery in Chelsea.

Broan, a gallerist I met during the Scope New York fair, struck me as a woman with a mission.
She has a liveliness about her that when she speaks of her artists and the art exhibited at her gallery, you know it's coming straight from the heart.

(Image above right, video still of Amanda Biggs "Amanda on Top, Twins Below, 1996)

Interestingly enough, earlier the same day I went through about 10 other galleries.

Only two had employees who would even DARE to acknowledge my existence.
As a former gallery assistant, I find it interesting in many ways how members of the art scene cluster around in a certain clicque, yet I find it hysterical that as soon as the wallet is opened, or the designer digs drape upon the body, those people behind the desk take notice.

Cynthia, on the other hand, is there for the art-- nothing more, nothing less.

So this exhibit had a special significance for me in several ways.

I am a woman in a man's world-- the financial world, to be precise, for my day job-- but through this blog I find myself dabbling in the art world on its outskirts, trying to make my way in through tiny increments.

I think this show could be one of those increments for the artists involved as well.

Let's start off with the quirky mixed media work of Jennifer Viola.
A 2002 MFA from School of Visual Arts, Viola takes the "F" word literally, with her works translating into universal sign language for "F WORD" spelled out.
Jennifer has a unique sense of humor about her.

I like how each of these works takes on issues of feminitiy and mixes them with cartoon-like mirth.

Viola seems to always be quick with a comeback and has a sharp eye for detail with her other work-- ceramics that literally have fingers stretching out like abandoned apendages from a Tim Burton film.

It was a nice chance for me to see some of her more illustrative work, and she definitely came out as one of the best of the entire show.

Next up, another 2002 SVA grad, video artist Kate Gilmore.

I'm never quite sure of what to expect with her work-- sometimes I relate quite easily to her subject material and can understand where she's going with it.

Her videos usually place her into situations where she finds herself either in danger of being physically hurt, or does impossible tasks that are futile in nature.

Something about them screams Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or trying to prove one's self against great odds stacked to the ceiling (literally, in some cases, where she's climbed precariously up mountains of chairs; or rollerskated up a wall dripping in chocolate to reach a cake prize).

But this video was fairly simplistic-- eating a mound of cut raw vegetables-- carrots, peppers, tomatoes-- and then spitting them out at the camera.

For the first time, I didn't really "get it."

Was Gilmore commenting on eating disorders? Bullemia? Images of women starving themselves for acceptance?

Or was it once again a task of "futility" as Cynthia mentioned?

I wasn't sure.

So for this time, I'll have to get it two thumbs sideways-- just because my brain began to hurt while trying to comprehend.

Next up, how about a little protest action, a la Che Guevarra?

Shay Nowick's "F It."

Here there is a holy book, and a transferring of a key-- perhaps a key to a safe, to someone's heart, or the key to existence?
Again, I'm on a literal sense myself here, but the thing I like about this the most is its criminal element and the power it possesses behind it.
They are the 21st Century Converse All Stars Thelma and Louise, and I like it... I do.
The only thing I would change is there must be a Mexican Wrestling Mask in there somewhere waiting to make an appearance with their next heist.

Great stuff.
Part two of my review will have to come on Friday-- since that male dominated day job is taking up a lot of time this week-- but there's still lots more to come from this group exhibit.


Anonymous said...

Wow Oly: I'm interested in reading more of your musing on the show. I have to say that being someone who has recovered from Eating Distorders...I always see those in peoples work. But when I said it to Gilmore at the opening...she I watched the piece longer I really saw this really smarmy little my own in their high chairs...that kind of untouched boldness that one finds only in children..."I'm not taking this"..."I don't want what you are forcing in my face." Which to me is very indicative of the Feminist fight, the outrage...I really love the piece...I even fantasized about having it playing on a wall of my kitchen on a loop. In that "don't you tell me what to do kind of rant."

As an artist myself...I don't really care if the viewer gets my point or something of their own from the's just really great to see that our work is making people think.


Oly said...

Hey, Anonymous.
Yeah, I actually can see that as well.
Sort of the Lily Tomlin in the big chair skit as well.
Maybe the oversized bow alludes to it.
Yet for me, there's more of a Church Choir feel to it mixed with bullemia.

But hey, what do I know?

Thanks for the comments.

It's good to hear from my lurkers!


Brenda Oelbaum said...

I didn't really mean to be Anonymous...I'm just not that hip on the blog thing...I'm Brenda Oelbaum...I did the "Osama's Bin Degraded" piece in the show... so I'm desparately waiting for you to finish your critique to see if you had anything interesting to say about me!!! because after all isn't that what it's all about??? I hope you get more chatter...I think these blogs are brilliant.