Friday, August 08, 2008

from head to toe: appendages of the human body and their discontents

[“sizzling habitats” by zigi ben-chaim (2007), wire mesh, canvas, paper, alkyd paint, hooks on aluminum. “salt lines ii” by reena saini kallet (2007), acrylic and cardboard in six frames. “world 17,” by ruud van empel (2006), cibachrome, dibond, plexiglass.]

questioning idealized and commercialized body images, stux’s group exhibition “from head to toe” connects works focusing on –or highlighting—various appendages of the human body. in the way of a medical laboratory, the installation’s very sequencing allows the curators to play the role of dr. frankenstein. by using new media technologies, many of the featured artists have found a vernacular to echo both modern genetics and surrealism’s uncanny effects.

like his other works, zigi ben-chaim’s “sizzling habitats” integrates urban elements with those from his native iraq and israel to create multilayered universes within a universe. these awesome and highly textured sculptural paintings speak of existence and survival amid precarious situations. use of grids and cutouts in his works integrate personal narrative with his complicated cultural exposure. creator of the outdoor installation “splendid step” in new york’s hammarskjöld plaza, ben-chaim’s iconography references our civilization’s lurking dangers and examines our relationships to the larger human experience.

reena saini kallet, whose work simultaneously draws from the disciplines of painting, sculpture, and photography, has depicted the body’s sensory organs in “saltlines ii.” these organs are represented in stylized spillage (as though they were secretions of body fluids)—the forms incorporated into demons sourced from the razmnama or book of wars, which is the persian translation of the sanskrit epic mahabharata. the organs eject hatred and violence in the form of tiny parasites.

the real and imaginary and the attainable and elusive (if not downright impossible) have coalesced in ruud van empel’s “world 17.” seemingly lost characters inhabit its high gloss and richly saturated photographs. comprised of hundreds of individual photographs taken by van empel, these images have been digitally compiled to produce a perspective impossible to capture in routine film exposures.

what is the reality of our self-representation? do our idealized images conform to an “inner truth” or carefully align with contrived falsehoods the media has fabricated for commercial purposes? curators of “from head to toe” have sought to create a golem via the juxtaposition of the installation’s individual works. with this culmination of works in hybrid media, the participating artists have challenged social and cultural assumptions on how we see ourselves and offered possible alternatives to our sometimes macabre and grotesque self-image tug of war in which we become our own worst enemies

from head to toe through august 14, 2008 stux gallery 530 west 25th street, nyc 10001 212.352.1600

No comments: