Invisible-Exports’ current show represents the agglutination of two transgressive, visionary, and carnal artists born 50 years apart in the 20th century. The collection of Polaroids, collages, and sculpture ushers viewers down a path of twisted eroticism and stitched-together identity that may leave them unnerved, inquisitive, and, most of all, tantalized.
The story begins with an artist dubbed “the man without morality” in the early 1900s, Pierre Molinier. A painter of landscapes who soon moved on to fetishistic photographs of dildos and dolls, Molinier was too outré for even the Surrealists to fully welcome him into their fold. A shapeshifter who used himself as an unconventionally extravagant subject, Molinier exhibited a morbidity and predilection for the bizarre that has inspired the work of many artists, including Cindy Sherman, most notably her Sex Pictures series from the early 1990s.
While Molinier is the egg of the current exhibition, Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE is the squirming sperm that fertilizes the concept to bring it to fruition. Titillated as a schoolboy by Molinier’s fluidity of form, s/he was inspired to create work that pushed past the boundaries not only of conventional creativity, but also of biological identity and physicality. Though many of BREYER P-ORRIDGE’s photographs possess a stiffness (no pun intended) and forced artificiality, whereas Molinier made it seem effortless, the work shows a real desire on his/her part to reach those heights, even if it falls short in comparison in such a small show.
There are shocking and sensationalist tales of Molinier cumming in his sister’s corpse and BREYER P-ORRIDGE masturbating with chicken heads, but this exhibition speaks volumes without the added melodrama of the two artists’ lives (though one can never discount the importance of the scandalous scuttlebutt.)
Untitled portraits of Molinier in drag, with three pairs of fishnet-clad legs wrapped around his body, and Polaroids of BREYER P-ORRIDGE in post-op regalia smack the viewer with unimaginable contortions of gender, sexuality, and humanity. The soul becomes tangible in these works, as the artists stretch the human body beyond conceivable limits and document it as only possible within the realms of art and fetish.
The multiplicity of forms shown in Molinier’s composite photographs and BREYER P-ORRIDGE’s polyptych of fishnetted thighs in a swirling vortex hypnotize the senses. The carnal patterns at once alienate us from the work and enchant us into seeing the potential we all hold to transform ourselves. Even the quiet meditation one expects to feel when leaning over into “Horsehair Mandala in a Box” (2014), a maelstrom worthy of Pandora, overcomes our senses.
The simplest, most effective illustration of these corporeal limits and the transformation of the body is the high heel. Toweringly high dominatrix stilettos (some with dildos attached to the heels) pictured in Molinier’s photographs clue us in to what such seemingly ordinary objects actually do to bend and break our bodies. Two arresting sartorial sculptures — heels worn by Genesis’s dominatrix persona and now stuffed with rams’ horns — draw us into their twisted compositions and unexpected wrest of routine function.
The sculptures are, cutely enough, both called “Shoe Horns,” which somewhat obviously describes the unfamiliar space viewers are forced into when confronted with this work.
BREYER P-ORRIDGE & Pierre Molinier continues at Invisible-Exports (89 Eldridge Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan) through October 12.