Like Paul McCarthey’s ill-fated Butt Plug Tree, I like art that pushes boundaries. That’s what I found in abundance when Geoffrey and I made the scene last Saturday at Flag Art Foundation in Chelsea for the opening reception of a group show they call Disturbing Innocence. It was definitely disturbing.
Curated by Eric Fischl, Disturbing Innocence features over 50 historical and contemporary artists whose use of dolls, toys, mannequins, robots, and other surrogates forms a deep and powerfully expressive genre. The exhibition poses profound questions surrounding social constructs of youth, beauty, transformation, violence, sexuality, gender, identity, and loneliness.
Inspired by Fischl’s own childhood in suburban Long Island, NY, and his early career as an artist working in New York City in the 1980s, Disturbing Innocence presents a subversive and escapist world at odds with the values and pretensions of polite society. Ninety percent of the art on display is not for the easily offended, but if you are open minded and appreciate stuff that is a bit — or a lot — twisted, then this will be your thing.
Let’s take a look at some highlights from the show!
This snow globe features the serene, wintery scene of one clown standing on the back of another clown in order to commit suicide by hanging himself. Because clowns are scary!
I call this one Nude Rapunzel, because none of the names of the art/ artists were posted adjacent to the works, which is just lazy if you ask me. Or, rather, it makes me feel lazy for not scouring the interwebs thoroughly enough to glean the name of the artist/piece.
Here is one of the less disturbing pieces in the show: it looks like an exploding plastic bag trapped inside a cage.
Here is a closer look. I like it.
Look! It’s baby Michael Jackson post-plastic surgery disaster. Let’s find out who his playmate is.
Why, it’s baby Charles Manson! Oh, the cuteness.
This one is just insane.
I did a Google image search of “Sculpture made of breasts” to try to find the name /artist of this piece and got about 100 hits, none which were this sculpture.
This piece, which is a video of a talking head projected against a split sphere, really reminded me of the talking statues in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. It’s the same technique used to give the mannequins expressive faces at the Brooklyn Museum’s Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit last year.
This functional Nutcracker Doll might be a bit big to keep on hand in your kitchen, but it sure would be a hit at your holiday party!
This sculpture of Siamese Twin Girls was the most disturbing piece in the show, for me. I wish I knew more about it.
I think that all of these sculptures and tableaus, such as the one-armed child above, are perhaps meant to make us more comfortable with seeing and being around people that look different from ourselves. I don’t know that there are any definitive answers, but Disturbing Innocence at the very least aims to start a conversation.
Find out more about Eric Fischl and artists involved in Disturbing Innocence by visiting This Link.
Disturbing Innocence will be on Exhibit Through January 31st, 2015 at Flag Art Foundation, Located at 545 West 25th Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District. Gallery Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM.