Body As Charged Canvas

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Body As Charged Canvas

Wall of Pain is tacked to the wall with hypodermic needles. Comprised of 98 (out of several hundred) photographs of Flannagan's expressions, each image was taken every time Flannagan was hit by his partner Sheree Rose. As we gaze into variations of his ecstatic smile, Flannagan shows no traces of pain, only liberation. The liberation of numbing one kind of pain (one he couldn't control) with another (one he could create and control). In Flannagan's work, servitude becomes aphrodisiac in an oasis of transgression as therapy.

Jana Leo, "Frozen Memory", 2006. Archival inkjet prints on Sintra mounted Hahnemuhle rag paper, 18 x 13 in each.

Jana Leo's previous show at Invisible Exports was called Rape New York. That show converted the gallery space into an open archive for numerous crates of paperwork relating to the traumatic experience of rape, which Leo endured while held captive in her own apartment, eight years before. A photograph she made during that time, Frozen Memory, is shown here in a new context, framing the event through new eyes. With Frozen Memory Leo uses the medium as a vehicle to "record and forget", using inherent photographic properties of freezing and discarding. With Doing & Undoing, Part 1 & 2 Leo employs video to communicate the emptiness one can feel, alone in the company of a full plate of food. (I couldn't help thinking of Wilke's Plate and Spoon.) In this work, Leo shows consumption, regurgitation and the return to consumption as a process that mirrors the body's regenerative course. The work references nature as a constant recycler. Through mastication, Leo presents body as conduit for process and reprocess.

Hannah Wilke, Untitled, 1992. Three color photographs, 14 x 38 in framed.

Living body as sculpture is the primary medium for Hannah Wilke, who died prematurely from lymphatic cancer in 1993. Besides sculpture, Wilke produced writings, drawings, photography and video. Mostly known for her vulva sculptures in terra-cotta from the 60s, and chewing gum pieces created in the 70s, such iconic works share a haunting connection to her three works currently at Invisible Exports. Wilke's labial works evoke fertility and decay simultaneously, but in their repetition and scale, they resemble relationships of cellular division and mutation: much like the life cycle of a tumor. When applied to her body, labial gum sculptures address the formation of cysts, nodes, sores, scars; as well as a sprouting of erotic eruptions.

With Untitled Wilke chronicles her mental and physical transformation throughout stages of treatment. A staging that deliberately degenders perceptions of the body. Her post-treatment hairless scalp does not prevent her from smiling triumphantly, defying expectations of suffering, of aesthetics. As an artist for whom feminism was more important than art, and whose femininity was under constant public investigation, hers is an energy steeped in the confidence of beauty beyond physical encasement.

Mine will be exhibited until October 17, 2010 at the Invisible Exports gallery, 14A Orchard Street, New York NY.



Comments [2]

SMBrown's picture

Wow, really interesting

Wow, really interesting work--though the backstory is certainly not for the faint of heart.  Thanks for putting this show on my radar screen.

patricia's picture

thanks for reading!

Glad you enjoyed reading about it. If you can, see the show and let's circle back on here if you want to discuss more.