Anna Kustera Gallery is proud to present Siren, an exhibition of the work of four women artists who disprove the antiquated but insidious Kantian chestnut that women are defined by their relation to men. These ladies write their own rules and they make beautiful noise.
Photographer Pinar Yolacan contributes an image from her recent Mother Goddess series, which is inspired by prehistoric stone figurines excavated from her homeland of Turkey. Yolacan’s Mother Goddess, Boro, (2009) is an image that effectively thwarts our initial perceptions of a bound and gagged unwilling participant. The denim-colored womanly icon, though faceless and mute, demands to be worshipped. Her swaddled presence is large, mountainous and most of all fecund. The artist explores historical notions of female beauty while placing the power in the unseen eye of the beheld. Also on display is one of the artist’s intricate and surreal handmade jumpsuits, shown here as if in effigy of an odalisque in repose. Yolacan’s subjects for the series – female Turkish farmers chosen for their body types – instinctively selected the postures, with the restrictive but liberating body coverings often dictating the pose. In taking our concept of a seamstress to new places Yolacan becomes a kind of archeologist of her own gender.
In Sally Dennison’s photographic series, Plastic Power, the artist addresses the potentially self-destructive outcomes of our voracious consumption and waste, specifically that of plastic bags. The bodies in the photographs are writhing in an attempt to rid themselves of the plastic, that ubiquitous product of oil and environmental malignancy which has become like a second unwanted skin.
The performance and accompanying mixed-media installation by Narcissister manages to be simultaneously futuristic and reactionary. The artist, who hails from the world of performance and dance, creates twisted black comedies that parody contemporary desire. The “Man” in her Man/Woman video is surrounded by all of the trappings of what it means to be cool and male in Middle America: beer, a camouflage cap, old school porn, skateboards, gun paraphernalia and Hard Rock. We witness the hapless tough guy simulating self-stimulation by wagging his fake, lily-white genitals in the direction of a poster of Narcissister. The hung over man skin is shed to reveal Narcissister herself, masked and complete with a second set of plastic, milk chocolate breasts. She plays air guitar on the prosthetic nipples and lap dances with the empty “Man.” Writer Katie Cercone, in describing the work, states that, “Gender is in permanent apocalypse, suggests the bawdy artist, whose gestures are lifted from a culture that has made sex serve every imaginable consumer impulse.” Perhaps there’s a Nubian female beauty inside every white (trash) guy.
Dineo Bopape, best known to New Yorkers for her multi-media room installation in 2009’s ‘The Generational: Younger Than Jesus’ exhibition at The New Museum, for Siren presents her mesmerizing video collage entitled Feeling Cosmic. In the two- minute self-portrait, the artist dons whiteface that is part clown, part tribal ritual adornment. An oversized Protea flower, the South African bloom said to symbolize diversity and courage, is worn by the artist/performer as a boutonniere as well as a Freudian crotch merkin. Her oversized tinted glasses make her eyes convey wonderment and wisdom in equal measure. Alternating between black and white with flashes of startling color, the piece is a poem constructed from visual and musical rhythms that affect the viewer’s own heartbeat. Bopape, like the rest of the artists in the exhibition, is less interested in the overtly political than in the untold stories we hold inside ourselves.