The Slippery Slope of Perspective / Hyperallergic


Margaret Bobo-Dancy, “Conch Critter (Abject of Representation)” (2013); cast bronze, nail polish; 11 x 9 x 7 inches. (all photographs by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

CHICAGO — Are you a viewer, voyeur, or just a wallflower? These interchangeable labels provide a curious starting point for ways to think about the relationship between the subject and the (art) object in Slippery Slope, a group exhibition at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. Showcasing the works of 21 artists, the exhibition explores the abject body, queerness as a nexus for transgression, trans-materiality, performance art as part of a body politic, and gender as a social construct. But really, it might all just be about porn.

In her statement for the show, curator Robin Hustle intends that every work in the exhibition adopts or recognizes pornographic aesthetics, and engages with sexual arousal, utopian exploration and establishing a relationship between the artist and the voyeur, rather than the artist and the viewer. As a writer and art critic, use of the term “voyeur” rather than the more typical artspeak of “viewer” struck me as part of the bigger picture about slippery slopes regarding whom we are allowed to look at, why and how; we live in a culture with a blurred line between surveillance and voyeurism, where checking each other out on social media is just a part of how we “get to know” people. Thus every viewer is a voyeur, ultimately situating the perceived art work or online persona as an object that will either be consumed (viewed, liked, commented upon) or rejected (hidden, blocked, unfollowed, ignored).

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