Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lee Materazzi photos and live performance at Art Los Angeles Contemporary

Quint Contemporary was doing laundry at the Art LA Contemporary fair.
Featuring work of Lee Materazzi.

Materazzi's work takes us into her characters' domestic mishaps and relationships. Her interactions and struggles with the banal and tedious things around her impart a feeling of discomfort while at the same time a tone of the ridiculous. As in, we cannot help but laugh at the predicaments that our protagonist finds herself in. It's not a belly laugh, but more like that laugh in your heart you get when you see someone lose the scoop off of their ice cream cone.
I was remembering a time when I was attempting to remove the ugly cabinet that surrounded the little sink in the bathroom. At some point during the deconstruction, I found myself lying on my back with my feet propping up the sink. I remember lying there trying to maneuver tools and brackets that I needed to use with my hands to get the job done, all the while not able to let go of the sink. Remember, I'm holding it up with my legs while lying on my back - otherwise it would fall forward and bring the whole plaster and lathe wall down with it...

Back to Materazzi:
Task becomes toil and ritual, with a distinct relationship overtone between the every-day and fetishism. There is also a tension regarding the purpose of the things that she engages with - each item carrying with it a personality, each interaction containing a conversation.
For example, a vacuum cleaner is no longer a cleaning tool, but a late afternoon romp in the sheets, arms and legs entangled....or is this a struggle? A wrestling match with an uncooperative inanimate object?

Did she trip over the hose while rounding the corner in a hurried cleaning session before guests arrive? Has the vacuum become a replacement friend or lover - someone reliable who won't argue back? This mind-fantasy that ensues in viewing her work is to me, the very crux and ultimate success of this series.

These images capture something new about addressing domestic/sexual/ritualistic/identity/gender roles in art. They lack kitsch, and a chip on the shoulder. It has instead, a simple truth and humble reality. The way in which the pieces are created rides on the fence between actuality and staging. The mood is not a moment captured in the time, but rather a simple documentation of occurrences. I found myself creating scenarios in my head about what lead up to the event pictured and how in the world this woman would get out of the predicament I was looking at.

My favorite was the triptych "Birthday Cake".

I have to now confess that this work is getting to me more the next day.
In the onset of the task to make a birthday cake, the protagonist has chosen to do this facial treatment instead. The result is a decided action that ruins the intended meaning of the original form. Aside from a few obvious reads, such as makeup or the masks that housewives must wear, the cake is no longer a food gift/given. It is now a food that must be taken - and in the most intimate way by licking it off her face...or it must be denied, by not having it all and washing it away.

Overall, there is definitely an enmeshed relationship going on with her subjects and the viewer.
images courtesy of Quint Contemporary

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