Marianne Boesky, you saucy little wench! Mine eyes had never taken you for propagating such a meat market amidst such clinical settings. You always seemed more the proper uptown type, rather than mistress of Manhattan’s nether regions.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system … walking into Boesky’s current five-man exhibition I felt at any moment some Neanderthal would ambush me from the rafters to have his way with me. Focusing on the more brutish and texturally risqué works of Jorge Eielson, Donald Moffet, David Noonan, Steven Parrino, and Salvatore Scarpitta, Stripped, Tied and Raw is a wonderful exploration into the power of fabric as sexual metaphor and how a simple fold can be much more than the sum of its parts.
Throughout the show, fabric and material is crushed, bunched, pressed, cut and expanded into shapes and scenarios that emphasize their carnal nature. In the side room, which contains Donald Moffet’s “Lot 103007X” (2007) and Steven Parrino’s “Glamracket” (1997), we are immediately confronted with a before and after of the activities of the lower groin. I was especially enthralled by the labial Moffet piece, which literally opens itself to Parrino’s agonizing, twisted mass of fabric on the floor. Seemingly teasing us with its feminine wiles. Parrino’s angry muddled pile seems to warn of the eternal damnation that will follow the plucking of Moffet’s petals before us.
In his short life, Parrino certainly embraced the motto of so many Team Gallery artists — “Live hard, love harder” — and his rock star persona makes him the star of the show in many ways. Take the delectable wickedness of “Devil’s Day” (1995), a rumpled puddle of red set against a swathe of clean fabric, reminiscent of the morning after … pill. Maybe here is a hotel lay gone awry, blood pooling in the center of the crime. I asked myself who exactly is the victim here, or was there just a bit too much fun had with some Pinot at an afterparty?
Another of the show’s strong suits lies in the complex knotted works of Jorge Eielson. Through his mastery of the ancient Incan craft of quipu, Eielson’s pieces are especially poignant due to the fact quipus was used as a non-verbal means of recording systematic communication by a people who had no literary culture. Here, every unmade bed has a story. The ties and splits of fabric reach out to the corners of the stretcher bars to give the viewer the sensation of literally being tied up, arms and legs splailed to and fro, not unlike a medieval torture chamber, or a dominatrix’s den. Perhaps a lesson in trust, or more likely, “How the hell did I get myself into this mess,” Eielson’s compositions in “Quipus 24 B” (1999) and “Quipus 57 CR” (1985), simply cannot be examined without focusing on the very human characteristics that are brought about by their appendages’ positioning through bondage.
In contrast to the explicit behavior that is suggested in the art of Parrino and Eielson, Salvatore Scarpitta’s “Mas Tres” (1959) is a lesson in chastity — holding something beneath the surface, rather than letting it go. Plywood strappings appear in an almost sports bandage formation across the canvas. Scarpitta overlays the plywood again and again, until what once was a tiny Band-Aid is now covering what can feel like a gaping wound. You almost want to thank Scarpitta for appearing to be the lecturing overprotective father in contrast to the other artists, for he obviously has our best interests at heart.
Where the show falls flat is in Australian artist David Noonan’s goth-punk silkscreens — far more likely serving as mere filler for a figurative narrative that is woefully unnecessary in this show, given the far superior concept works of the other four artists. There’s something to be said for a bit of mystery, and though a Martin Gore-like character behind op-art bars in his undies may be something I could deal with in another context, here it is woefully in need of being bound, gagged and asphyxiated. Perhaps he needn’t have looked much further than his own countryman, INXS’ Michael Hutchence, whose sad death by rumored autoerotic asphyxiation would have been a much better source of inspiration.
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