Posts Tagged ‘Abundant Delicacy’

Freshly Fishy

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

You Are What you Eat is the impression I get from Alisa Baremboym’s Abundant Delicacy.  At 47 Canal Street, it’s Baremboym’s first solo show, featuring inkjet prints on cotton, ceramic sculptures, and luggage.  She channels a collective esprit de corps that sings: we are squishy, oily, perishable – putrid unless preserved.

Alisa Baremboym, "Beet Palette," 2012

Work about the body is always compelling, even more so in an election year.  Concepts of government as a body are millenia old, beginning with Plato and refreshed by Hobbes and Tocqueville.  Mind-body dualism engenders the separation between legislative and executive functions.  Radicals and demagogues still abuse the metaphor of cancer: “progressives are a cancer,” “Deficits are a Cancer,” “ObamaCare is a Cancer,” etc.   Have fun applying this metaphor to right-wing legislative attacks on women’s bodies (Body versus bodies), or the right-wing Supreme Court justices voting against the Affordable Care Act (Mind versus bodies).

Barbara Kruger, "Untitled (Your body is a battleground)," 1989

Baremboym takes up the body to review how people – at least Western, developed people – cycle through a machine world from birth to death.  From conception, through death and estate, people are as processed as commodities in cargo.  We are refrigerated, shipped, hoisted, sorted, padded, irradiated, and marketed.  Every natural process is met with a manufactured product or process.  Born? Insurance.  Pooping? Diapers.  Period? Maxi pads.  Sad? Prozac.  Married? Legal status.  Bored? Vacation ads. Farmville.  Aging? List begins here.  Otherwise, you are the product.

Alisa Baremboym, "Lox," 2010

Her models for the body are lox, sardines, bread, and the things that carry them.  Seeing Lox, up close, reminds me of skin or fat cells under a microscope.  Sardines brings to mind every ride on a rush-hour A train.   And in a compression of these symbols, she presents cling-wrapped luggage.

Alisa Baremboym, "Sardine Luggage" (2012) and "Lox Luggage" (2011)

Sardine Luggage and Lox Luggageare like guts wrapped in skin wrapped in clothes – full of shit.  This localized, but made-to-travel quarantine additionally invokes sexual fetish, mummification, or even a straitjacket.  Incidentally, much of this work looks cool, patterned, clean, and even funny.  Painting-scaled inkjet printing still reminds me of Kelley Walker.  This style seems to belie Baremboym’s pithy reductions.  Paradox is present, however, as soon as we consider the oxymoronic title of her show.

Her ceramics look like deposit receptacles, even without the obvious titles: Trough, Urinal, Bedpan.  Hidden inside Breadestal is a roll of toilet paper.  When the log rolls over, we’ll all be dead.  Toilet as destiny.

From Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" (1989)

The most morbid, chilling piece is Meat Locker.  It’s allegedly a photo taken at a sausagefactory in New Jersey.  Here, it’s printed on a translucent veil of silk and stretched over the steel elevator door.  If it doesn’t make you think of undignified death, then you haven’t considered the source (of everything).  “Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else,” said Tyler Durden.  Brrr.

Alisa Baremboym, "Meat Locker" (2012)