Bodily Dysfunction

Insect tongues, frogs, human skin, and more -- they're all "corporal"

It sounds a bit creepy, I know, but Méndez pulls it off somehow. An untitled piece consists of ten small wooden panels that contain ghostly fragments of human skin. And for Paréntesis, the artist has collected strands of hair and painstakingly woven them into half a dozen oddly graceful forms that hang on the wall. Individual identities become part of a communal identity.

Half a dozen large color photographs by Mónica Van Asperen, an Argentinian, are among the exhibition's slickest, most provocative pieces. Three are on a wall inside the gallery, the other three high above the gallery in the Schmidt Center's foyer. The photos are part of a series called Inclusion de mi hacia el otro (Inclusion of myself toward the other), and they all feature pairs of nudes connected with coils of flesh-tone elongated balloons that cover their heads and upper bodies.

Dwin, in the brochure, describes these figures as "quasi-androgynous," but to me, they all look clearly male. The nudes, in sharp focus on an empty set, variously stand, lean, and crouch. In some pictures, the balloons are like a mass of thick spaghetti, while in others, they suggest, especially from a slight distance, condoms of a sort. Unwittingly or not, Van Asperen has created imagery that powerfully evokes the way so many contemporary gay males are linked in a time when all bodies are suspect. I say "unwittingly" because so much of the content of "Corporal" is female-oriented. But this reading of Van Asperen's piece is very much in keeping with the show's stated concerns.

Unwittingly or not, Van Asperen has created imagery that powerfully evokes the way so many contemporary gay males are linked.
Unwittingly or not, Van Asperen has created imagery that powerfully evokes the way so many contemporary gay males are linked.

The downside to "Corporal" is that it feels incomplete. Granted, the Schmidt Center Gallery is a relatively small exhibition space, but I came away wishing that the show had included two or three more pieces by most of the artists. Then again, a show about bodies that's something of a tease may be entirely appropriate.

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