Galleries

Dancing to the Beat of a Different Drumstick

by Claire Voon on June 2, 2014

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Marissa Perel, installation view at Pseudo Empire gallery (2014) (all photographs by the author for Hyperallergic)

The landscapes of the body and of the universe collide in a series of new works at Marissa Perel’s solo show The Voyager, the inaugural exhibition of Pseudo Empire gallery in Bushwick. Using a variety of media to bring the unglamorous chicken drumstick to bear on the subtleties of the human body, the artist explores the transformative potential of flesh, conjuring a cryptically alluring world that commands the gallery’s compact space.

The show’s centerpiece, “Miranda,” is a dual-channel video featuring the artist gliding two cast-glass drumsticks over her naked self as she impassively narrates one of ten self-composed poems featured in a limited edition, for-sale chapbook, Angry Ocean (also on display). Named after one of Uranus’ moons, the video — tinged in alternating hues of pink, blue, and green light — steers us across close-up, fragmented glimpses of the mysterious crevices of her bodyAccompanied by wind-chime-like sounds of the planet as received by NASA’s space probe Voyager 2, Perel speaks in strings of riddles that further muddle our familiarity with the body, without leaving much time for contemplation. (“Now my body is the equivalent of onion skin frozen in the moonlight,” she declares at one point.) Narration aside, there’s poetry between the sensuality of her skin and the glass surface of the chicken fragments, their bulbous forms and association with death notwithstanding.

The glass drumsticks themselves, titled “Voyager 2,” are on display across from the monitors; resting on a beige carpeted shelf, the meat appears comforting instead of repellent, but the works lose some of the seduction gained from the dream-like lighting in the “Miranda” video. Three other drumsticks made of plaster and acrylic are more engaging, although they lie, as though misplaced, on a low, rocky step. Painted gold [“Trophy Wife (The Golden Record)”], white (“Ariel/Umbriel”), and pink, (“The Big Pink, Velvet Gang Gang Dance Remix”), the opacity invites a tracing of the skin’s bumpy surface, itself recalling geological textures. Through this defamiliarization of the ordinary, Perel suggests linkages between the forms and patterns inherent to the universe.

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Marissa Perel, from left to right: “Trophy Wife (The Golden Record)” (2014), “Ariel/Umbriel” (2014), “The Big Pink, Velvet Gang Gang Dance Remix” (2014)

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Marissa Perel, “Voyager 2″ (2014)

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Marissa Perel, “Miranda” (2014)

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Marissa Perel, “Miranda” (2014)

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Marissa Perel, “Angry Ocean” (2014)

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Visitors watching “Miranda” (2014)

The Voyager continues at Pseudo Empire (467 Troutman Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn) through June 29.

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