Re-installing Dalí

A look back at the surrealist's seminal World's Fair pavilion heads a trio of strong exhibits at MoCA

But Pierson's most satisfying pieces here are, fittingly, installations. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?(1994), on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, features a freestanding locked case made of glass and battered wood, with a stack of linen sheets inside. On top is an everyday assortment that includes a comb, cigarettes and a lighter, a shell ashtray containing cigarette butts, and a sketch held down by a pair of stones. On the wall a few feet away is a hook holding a key that, presumably, opens the padlock on the case.

Diamond Life (1990) is a more elaborate composition. A section of the museum's wall has been painted pale yellow and festooned with such items as an old post card and some dried twigs. In front of the wall, on a stretch of linoleum on the museum's floor, sits a table and chair. On the table rests an old hi-fi playing a scratched-up vinyl copy of Joni Mitchell's Hejira, with a stack of other albums (including the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed) on the floor nearby. Other items occupying shelves under the table include paperbacks by Truman Capote and Joan Didion, an ashtray with cigarette butts, and a copy of a book called Art Since 1945.


Surreal thrillers: Señor y Señora Dalí in the ticket booth to his exhibition at the 1939 New York World's Fair
Surreal thrillers: Señor y Señora Dalí in the ticket booth to his exhibition at the 1939 New York World's Fair

MoCA rounds out this trilogy of shows with the tantalizing "Hernan Bas: It's Super Natural,"which occupies the freestanding Pavilion Gallery across from the museum's main entrance. As you enter the darkened gallery, a guard hands you a flashlight, which you can use to examine the nearly two dozen small paintings on the walls.

The paintings, in water-based oils on various surfaces, are dark, moody images of what appear to be teenage boys camping out, hiking in the wilderness, etc. In a handout, Bas, a native of Miami, explains that these works are about his attempts to create images of same-sex affection drawn from the adventures of the Hardy Boys in the famous mystery-book series, using, as he puts it, "the 'art' of creative misinterpreting naively innocent representations of heterosexual comradeship...."But these pieces are really just a preface to the show's centerpiece, a large multimedia installation called No Girls Allowed. It's a makeshift shanty with rays of light shining through cracks in the boards and music playing inside. Scattered around the perimeter of this fortress are such items as beer cans and bottles, a Styrofoam cooler, and empty cigarette packs.

The punch line comes when you peer through a small opening in one wall -- shades of Duchamp's large installation Étant Données -- to see not a Hardy Boys retreat but what might be the lair of sophisticated young gays, complete with a red love seat, a cell phone, a Ouija board, a Gucci shopping bag, a volume of Oscar Wilde, copies of men's fashion magazines, and a little bar stocked with such top-shelf brands as Absolut vodka and Bombay gin.

Despite his avowed nervousness about homosexuality, Salvador Dalí would likely both understand and approve of the sly subversiveness of Bas's work, making it the perfect coda to Dalí's "Dream of Venus."

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