On weekdays throughout the month of April, nearly every hour on the hour, a giantess of sorts appears, projected onto a massive outdoor screen in Times Square. There, you'll see one tremendous mouth licking and slurping brilliant fluids; a gigantic head breaking through a star-shaped hole carved in plywood; and another titan perhaps dancing while enduring gales of paint. Creative Time's "44 1/2" is an ongoing series of outdoor screenings of video art in Times Square; the first series was chosen by veteran painter, so-called bad feminist, and sometimes-curator Marilyn Minter. Minter selected three videos: Patty Chang's Fan Dance, Kate Gilmore's Star Bright, Star Might, and her own Green Pink Caviar.
The screenings, in their totality, are entitled "Chewing Color" and are admittedly organized around what Minter calls the "pathology of glamour," the manner in which revulsion and allure pivot towards and away from one another when generated by the feminine body (and dare I say female maker?) When writing on the feminine as distinct from the female Theodor Adorno generates a binary organized around women who imagine themselves as open wounds versus those who imagine themselves as flowers. He isn't satisfied with either category, but ultimately prefers the gash to the blossom. As a curator, Minter ambivalently extends the premise to include stars (for starlets), canvases (because we are Pollock-haunted), and mouths (as fancy foyer to the deep throat). Wounds. Flowers. Stars. Canvases. Mouths.
Ultimately, I elected to negotiate "Chewing Color" -- or rather, this premise -- by producing a brief addendum to Minter's pathology in the form of a glossary:
Anna Nicole Smith's golden hair and golden breasts operate as reliquaries for a wrecked empire; posthumously they still conjure the American Dream, even as it becomes increasingly fictitious. It has been suggested that countries possessing the most compromised US relations are most attached to this sort of American Icon, sexualizing the threat in order to expand its use-value.
Burns, Robert. (1789):"Ye gipsy-gang that deal in glamor/ And you, deep-read in hell's black grammar,/ Warlocks and witches./Ye'll quake at his conjuring hammer,/Ye Midnight Bitches " Some linguists claim that both glamour and grammar were alternately defined as magic, charm, spell, or occult.Ye Midnight Bitches: a second-string title for Chewing Color; another show that expands the grammar or discards it altogether, or a direct action that rides patriarchy wet and hangs it out to dry?
"Dream princess and whipping-girl are the same, and she suspects nothing of i." In Minima Moralia, Adorno states that the feminine is simply a projection created by men and adapted by women. With an admirable economy of gestures and material, Patty Chang's Fan Dance takes up this mantle; however, unlike Adorno's spaced-out ‘whipping-girl' she remains suspicious of it.
"I LOVE DICK"- Chris Kraus's ficto-theoretical text, at points, examines the cinders of female art world production. Kraus quotes James Collins' 1974 Art Forum review of Hannah Wilke's video Gestures: "Using her mouth as a surrogate vagina and her tongue as a surrogate clitoris, in the context of her face, with it's psychological history, was strong stuff." Could Collins's take on Wilke double as a review of Minter's Green Pink Caviar? Whereas Wilke describes her work as "pathos beyond posing," what does Minter do with grief? How does she undermine the pose? Can she, like Wilke, "throw the weirdness of male response to female sexuality wide open?"
Kalup Linzy: Why does Minter draw a "genetic girl" line in the so-called sand of this curatorial investigation? If Amanda Lepore made video art, what might she visually communicate about the pathology of femininity? One reason Linzy's "Chewing Gum"(2008) isn't a shoe-in for "Chewing Color" is because it cannot function as a "silent movie" when clustered amongst Times Square's screens, and because it has no stake in referencing art world conversations about the formal properties of abstraction.
Ladd, Diane. In a scene from David Lynch's "Wild at Heart" (1990) Ladd smears red lipstick over the entirety of her face while watching herself in the mirror - an act both tragic, and comic. The pathology of glamour? Yes. The deep-seated horror of the over-accessorized crone? Yes. Here Lynch, like Minter, reminds his viewer that glamour in excess can transform a woman's face into something more (and less) than female -- a fearsome clown, an open wound or something that oscillates between the two.
Mask. The murdered dons a makeup-caked mask in "Alice, Sweet Alice," also known as "Communion" or "Holy Terror" (1976), a psychological horror-slasher that served as Brooke Shields' film debut. Shields is strangled and set afire by a figure that may or may not be her sister. However, she rises from the flames to play a child prostitute in "Pretty Baby" (1978). Laughable terror? Funny misogyny? Is it this kind of stardom, a lipstick-ed Kate Gilmore is thrashing towards in Star Bright, Star Might - a type of female stardom dependent on bizarre victimization, dopey humiliation, and childlike femininity? Is she donning a mask in order to attack something aligned with female-ness or is she playfully making light of what a gal's gotta do to leave one's mark in the art world? Is the hysterical body hysterically funny?
Picture a David La Chapelle photo that doesn't truly exist, a Minter video not yet made: A naked but somehow glowing Pamela Anderson is squatting, snow-white feces and black urine pool at her feet. Why the formal color palate? Because white feces and black urine are known symptoms of Hepatitis C. Why tamper with the icon? To tamper with the circle that encompasses the female within the feminine potentially shifts the diseased product closer to sublimity.
Wilke, Hannah. "To exist instead of being an existentialist, to make objects instead of being one. To be a sugar giver instead of a salt cellar, to not sell out." Chang takes up the reigns of Wilke's call by way of emphasizing the making of an object as one is being made into an object. And yet the probability of a 'silent' illuminating the 'dangers of 'selling out' in Times Square. Curious, but impossible?
Xiu Xiu. Lyrics softly crooned to tinkling sounds in "Fabulous Muscles": Cremate me after you cum on my lips/ Honey boy place my ashes in a vase/ Beneath your work out bench.