Tony Matelli‘s realistic “Sleepwalker” sculpture has created a bit of controversy among students at Wellesley, where the sculpture was installed outside of the college’s Davis Musuem. For Lisa Fischman, the museum’s director, the sculpture addresses the boundary of what we expect from art inside a museum versus the outside. Junior Zoe Magdid, the student who initiated a petition to have the sculpture removed, disagrees. “We were really disappointed that she seemed to articulate that she was glad it was starting discussion, but didn’t respond to the fact that it’s making students on campus feel unsafe, which is not appropriate,” Magid said. “We really feel that if a piece of art makes students feel unsafe, that steps over a line.” More than 300 students have signed the petition so far.
While I can see how Wellesley students could find the sculpture threatening or triggering, I am curious how they would have reacted if Matelli’s female sleepwalker sculpture were installed instead. Most students would probably not feel as threatened by its presence, but that sort of perception would only perpetuate the idea that men alone embody a physical threat, though women are also capable of sexual abuse against others.
However you choose to perceive the sculpture, Matelli’s work provokes viewers and asks them to consider not only the absurdity of a “schlumpy” man sleepwalking campus in his underwear, but also how certain bodies and genders are perceived inside and outside the art gallery. Some of Matelli’s other sculpture work can also be perceived as creepy, but they all seem to address notions of boundaries and gravity, and the defiance of particular expectations. (via gawker)
NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance), founded in 2002, is a not-for-profit art fair that showcases international galleries in New York, Miami Beach, and Cologne. NADA’s exhibitors are a breath of fresh air; the young vibe, the weirdness, and progressiveness of this exposition is hard to dismiss.
Here, I gather the most interesting works at the expo:
Estonian artist Kris Lemsalu sculpts and stages grotesque figures. In this particular set, it seems, are two very strange looking dogs(?), wrapped around sleeping bags. I’m not sure what is artist is going for here, but it seems to me that he is trying to set a scene, and a specific one at that. Both ‘dogs’ are covering their eyes, they are wrapped tightly, and they hovering amongst themselves; might it be that these are scared ‘dogs’ at an estranged camp of sorts?
Jonathan Torres, a Puerto Rican artist, creates half-animal, half-human sculptures, that are brightly colored and full of feathers. They are on the floor, nor are the hanging from the upright walls, instead they appear in odd places, throughout the tiny booth of the http://crenaz.byethost22.com/.
Double Meat Head, cast aluminum, cast bronze, urethane, paint, 2009, all images courtesy Tony Matelli
Tony Matelli’s hyper-real sculptures of meat and vegetable portraits, sprouting weeds, stacked cards, sleepwalking humans and malicious chimpanzees captures your attention with immediacy, a visual poignancy that would make it hard not to react with curiosity and amusement. This initial response opens the door to a slightly somber and disturbing environment where each series tackle concepts of death, resurrection, failure, pessimism, loss and reinvention. Matelli’s own personal concerns are projected onto these works buliding a relationship between object and artist that is further extended to the public.