January 6–27, 2007
76 Grand Street
WOMANIZER was a group exhibition of dangerous females, featuring Julie Atlas Muz, Kembra Pfahler, E.V. Day, Breyer P-Orridge, Vaginal Crème Davis, and Bambi. These artists utilize various media for their confrontational, edgy exploits but all share a background in cutting-edge performance. This exhibition featured not only performance, but also all manner of media to give a truly three-dimensional view of the artists.
Taking on the title WOMANIZER, not in the sense of a womanizing male subject but rather to "ize" with or to saturate with femaleness, this exhibition illustrated the unique vocabulary of these funny, transgressive, beautiful heroines. Horror, hedonism, pandrogyny, and pussies all figured prominently, as these challenging artists showed sculpture, video, photography, and exploring couture.
Julie Atlas Muz is Miss Exotic World 2006, the highest honor available in the neo-burlesque world from which she hails. A performance artist, choreographer, star of the burlesque stage and all-around naked lady, Julie has been included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial and in the 2005 Valencia Biennale. A Lambent Fellow and recipient of the Ethyl Eichelberger Award, Julie uses arousal and humor to invigorate and manipulate the audience, encouraging an investment of a more intellectualized interpretation. In the political evening length show I am the Moon and You are the Man on Me, Julie played the moon with seven men in a race to colonize her, and she received standing ovations every night when an American Flag was planted in her asshole by two miniature astronauts. In WOMANIZER, Julie included one of her most shocking and patriotic characters, Mr. Pussy, to welcome everyone to the exhibition.
Kembra Pfahler is the founder and lead singer for the theatrical shock rock band, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. She is an availabist and anti-naturist. She invented the WOMANIZER for this show at Deitch.
E.V. Day is a sculptress known for her embittered bride battles and exploding couture. In this exhibition she worked in black and white to make sculptures that imply action or performance, but seemed to freeze it at its moment of obliteration. This series was begun in 1999, in which Day suspended women’s dresses in space with fishing line and hardware. For example, in Bombshell (1999), exhibited at the 2000 Whitney Biennial, Day took a piece of iconic attire (Marilyn Monroe’s white halter dress) and arranged it to feel as if the forces of the implied figure are so powerful that the garment literally blows off, as if outgrowing its stereotype.
BREYER P-ORRIDGE is the name given to a single Artist Entity that is the expression via creation of its two halves LADY JAYE BREYER P-ORRIDGE and GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE, two gender-variant activists and performance artists with origins stretching back into the European arm of Fluxus and extreme body actionism on one hand, and the New York downtown transgressive art underground on the other. They began their collaboration in the early 1990s, focusing on a central concern: the fictional self. Considering "the 'I' of our consciousness as a fictional assembly, a culturally imposed narrative or collage that resides in the environment of the body." BREYER P-ORRIDGE believe this construct is intended to act as a limiter of imagination designed to perpetuate evolutionary inertia and maintain a destructive socio-cultural status quo.
These two Brooklyn-based artists push the limits of body-based genders, ultimately to transcend and then erase them. "One of the central themes of our work is the malleability of physical and behavioral identity, the exploration of which has inevitably given rise to our merged identity, BREYER P-ORRIDGE."
Deeply influenced by the "cut-up" techniques invented by artist Brion Gysin and literary innovator William S. Buroughs (both of whom were friends and collaborators in earlier projects until their deaths), BREYER P-ORRIDGE transferred the use of "cut-ups" to identity, behavior, and to a lesser degree, gender, through ritual performance works and creation, and more literally, to the body through surgery. This application of the "cut-up" ultimately leads to the substantially irreversible process of cutting up identity to produce a third whole--one that can potentially redesign humanity's self-destructively binary, divided world where regressive pre-Astoric behavior clashes with a technologically advanced environment. They call this third entity, this third way of being, THE PANDROGYNE.
In this attempt to unify themselves in an "OTHER" ID/entity, the two artists agreed to use various modern medical techniques to resemble one another as much as was usefully possible. They were not interested in becoming twins. Far from it, their ultimate wish was to shed all separateness. As they stated, "...Pandrogeny is not about defining differences, but about creating similarities. Not about separation but about unification and resolution."
Vaginal Davis is an originator of the homo-core punk movement and a gender-queer art-music icon. Her concept bands--Pedro Muriel and Esther, Cholita! The Female Menudo, black fag, and the Afro Sisters--left an indelible mark on the development of underground music. Like Ron Athey, Ms. Davis made her name in LA's club performance scene, and earned herself a similar notoriety as a cultural antagonist and erotic provocateur. Her live works feel collagist in nature as she layers memory and pop culture inextricably.
Set apart from gallery-centered art, Hollywood movies, and their systems' necessities of high-polish, low-substance production, Vaginal Davis's low-budget--often no-budget--performance, experimental film, and video practice has critiqued exclusionary conceits from the outside. Davis has been a prolific producer of club performance, video and Xerox-produced Zines, and other forms of antagonistic low-cost, high-impact work. Such as in her drag reconstruction of Vanessa Beecroft's Navy SEALs performance, Ms. Davis derailed collector-friendly raciness in spectacles of femininity, queerness, and blackness. She critiqued both the gallery system and the larger cultural trend that it mirrored, with tongue-in-cheek self-exploitation and rude provocations of racial and gender confusion.
Bambi the Mermaid, Queen of Coney Island is a performance and fine artist and co-curator of the long-running Burlesque at the Beach at Coney Island USA. Bambi showed a selection from her ongoing series Freak Pin-ups that stemmed from traditional pin-up vocabulary yet celebrated physical flaws as beautiful. Using the backdrop of Coney Island and traveling carnivals, Bambi enlivened and reenacted extreme characterizations of human oddities witnessed from her exploration of the worlds of freak shows, strip clubs, pornography, and fetish role play.