Sunday, March 26, 2006

Splish-Splash, You May Need a Bath

Two of my friends share a great apartment in West Chelsea. Though, up until recently an enormous storage company ad invaded their living space. In it, a cautiously curvaceous woman wearing black-and-white stretch pants asked, “does my butt make this room look small?” while completely bent over.

Just when we started getting used to all the junk in her trunk, she vanished. Only to be replaced by designer-looking shoes covered in mud.

The mysterious billboards contained no slogan, no logo, and no text whatsoever. Just beautiful legs in beautiful shoes completely shot to shit.

I later came to discovered that the shoes, are in fact, not commercial advertisements at all. Rather, they are large-scale replicas of photographs by artist Marilyn Minter, currently appearing in the 2006 Whitney Biennial. They are only advertising—inadvertently of course—the art show itself.

It seems the interpretive confusion is largely due to the photographs’ ambiguity, rather than our artistic ignorance. Minter, a former fashion photographer, apparently enjoys blurring the lines between fine art and commercial art.

Inspired by “what’s real,” her work depicts “the representations and ramifications of glamour” she said in a press conference last week.

“If you wear expensive shoes in New York City, they will get dirty.”

With this realistic rationalization Minter brings to her work a level of beauty that is simultaneously disturbing. She once equated her art to a terrible car accident; you don’t want to look, but for some reason you cannot look away.

The Chelsea shoe billboards are an intriguing but marginally reflective introduction to her graphic body of work. Minter made a name for herself in the art world during the 60’s when she photographed her dying mother’s disturbing devotion to beauty rituals.

Though that series—said to be highly demented and disturbing—has been hidden away for over thirty years, Minter has continued her craft on that same salacious aesthetic. Her entire current collection, highlighting a heinous side to human “beauty,” is appearing at the Whitney.

Final Word: If you don’t see yourself making it uptown Shit-Kicker, Splish-Splash and Runs, on 23rd Street, as well as Mud Bath on Tenth Avenue will be visually available until the end of March.

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