Thursday, June 30, 2011

ARATALAND! Review in Whitehot Magazine

Shana Nys Dambrot has written an excellent review of the ARATALAND! exhibit for, based on the idea that Henry Miller dreamed it all early last century. As art theory goes, it's more plausible than most. Thanks Hank. Thanks Shana!

"Innocenceland is the most diverse concentration, with samples from a dozen series laid out in a labyrinth of smaller rooms and corridors radiating off the building’s loading dock. The psychological purgatory of the periods and series collected in this grouping is exacerbated by sense of decentralized wandering that the layout necessitates. There’s a map but it doesn’t really help. You get separated from your group, you find yourself alone, you become anxious, and room after room is full of objects most people don’t care to be left alone with. “In the next room, which is the parlor, all the relatives are assembled. They sit in a semicircle, waiting for me to enter. They sit stiff and rigid, upholstered like the chairs. Instead of warts and wens, there is horsehair sprouting from their chins.” (HM) A small number of sculptures from 1991-93, the Little Virgins feature flickering electric candles and spokes of soiled, black and white saddle shoes, filled with wax and acquired by trading the girls for donuts, one donut per pair. They are old shoes, outgrown -- it’s not like he was waiting outside some Catholic school in a van with a box of them. He asked their parents. But he’s fine playing the role of apocryphal pervert, and the creepy ritualized religious overtones and vague menace triggered by the mere sight of little lost children’s shoes are a major clue that the entire amusement park may have been deadly serious all along. Little Virgin Dress (1993) is a child-size wall sculpture of a white lace churchgoing dress with an under-skirt blossoming of sexy plastic flowers, and doesn’t help his case in that regard. It also rewards viewers for bending slightly to look up a little girl’s dress, making them complicit in the perversion. Nervous laughter and a slight hint of alarm is a common reaction..."

Read the rest of Arataland! at Beacon Arts Building, Los Angeles here.

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