Author: Alex

Twentysomething artist and writer, aspires to be a museum curator. Just finished my MA in art history. Film geek.

Social Uniforms in Film: Danny Deckchair (2003)

still-of-miranda-otto-and-rhys-ifans-in-danny-deckchair-(2003)

Continuing my new series on social uniforms in film, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite feel-good movies, Danny Deckchair.

Inspired by the real-life figure of Lawnchair Larry, the film centers on Danny (Rhys Ifans), a construction worker in Sydney who is known for thinking up weird (stupid) ideas like a “human slingshot.” He dreams of flying to faraway places and camping out in the wild, but he doesn’t have any serious goals for himself. Trudy (Justine Clarke), his partner of several years, has recently worked her way up from being a secretary to a real estate agent, and her ambitions expand after she meets Sandy Upman (Rhys Muldoon), a local sports newscaster. It’s clear they have grown apart, and when Trudy calls off their planned vacation the two resort to passive-aggressive games to play out their growing resentment towards each other. At a barbecue with friends Danny decides to try out his latest idea: tie a host of oversized balloons to a deckchair and test if they’ll hold his weight. Turns out, they do, and he’s unceremoniously shot into the air without any supplies, then pulled into a storm before he crash-lands in Clarence, a small rural town in the northern part of the country. Given a cover story by the woman whose backyard he falls into (Glenda, played by Miranda Otto), Danny is quickly welcome by the townspeople, and finds himself blossoming in ways he never expected.

With an over-the-top premise, a lighthearted script, a quirky cast of characters, and a cute love story, Danny Deckchair fits easily into the romantic comedy mold, but it also functions as a kind of man-finding-himself story. When we first meet the title character, he is happy enough in his daily life, but there seems to be an underlying lack, a quiet dissatisfaction that he staves off once a year with a vacation. His accidental landing and week-long stay in Clarence open up a sea of possibilities for him: a place where no one knows who he is, and a group of people who have no idea what he is (or isn’t) capable of. Glenda gives him an impressive cover story, claiming he is an old professor of hers from college, and with that lie he receives immediate respect and personal interest, which intoxicates him. His social high leads him to spread his considerable energy throughout the town, becoming campaign manager for a local politician, inspiring a live-drawing art class, and encouraging the reserved Glenda to come out of her shell.

dannydeckchair-suit2

Since he arrived with nothing but the weather-beaten clothes on his back, Danny is given a new wardrobe by Glenda. Both her parents are dead, and she lives in her childhood home, surrounded by all of their things. She lends Danny clothes that belonged to her father, most significantly a “suave” (and slightly over-sized) black suit for a town-wide dance they attend together. Putting on this suit, after also cutting his shaggy hair and shaving his beard, allows him to become a completely different person. He no longer presents as working class and unimportant (“one of the little people,” as Trudy terms it), but as a highly educated, put-together “professor” with ideas and opinions worth hearing. After the dance, he continues to wear the suit for most of his stay in Clarence, befitting his new status as campaign manager for loudmouthed wannabe politician “Big Jim” Craig (Anthony Phelan). He moves around the town meeting people, apparently charming everyone he speaks with (except Glenda’s jealous coworker), exuding confidence and goodwill. Gone are his feelings of inadequacy raised by the over-ambitious Trudy, gone is his restless wanderlust likely brought on by his unfulfilling job and the claustrophobia of a big city.

Glenda’s father is never named or spoken about in detail, but his absence (and that of her mother) is felt in her house through the set decoration and some scattered references in dialogue. Danny uncovers an old motorcycle sitting unused in her shed, and we learn that her parents were “original hippies, Easy Rider and all that,” who traveled extensively by bike in the 60s. When she was a child her father used to take her for rides in the country, unbeknownst to her mother. We know early on that Glenda is seen as something of a misanthrope within the town, preferring to be alone rather than join in community festivities. (Working as Clarence’s only traffic cop likely hasn’t won her any friends, either.) With Danny’s arrival, she gradually opens up, newly welcomed by the town that so readily welcomes him, and becoming an active participant in town life. The first man to come into her life in a meaningful way in a long time, Danny wears her father’s clothes, and later fixes her father’s motorcycle and encourages her to drive it, not so much literally standing in for him but clearly representing the joy and contentment that had left Glenda’s life with the death of her parents.

dannydeckchair-suit

As in Trust, that the social uniform in question belonged to a love interest’s parent increases its power as a symbol. With this suit (and haircut), Danny can immediately take on a totally different life, while also forging a deep connection to the person who gave it to him. He keeps it on even after he’s been discovered by Trudy (who has in his absence become closer to news anchor Sandy Upman, but soon sees Danny’s new-found fame for his bizarre stunt as appealing in her once ho-hum boyfriend), stunned into near-silence during his welcome-back party. The next day he goes back to work, back in his loose sleeveless shirt, ripped jeans, and work boots, and within minutes he realizes he truly does belong in Clarence, in Glenda’s home, and, of course, in that suit. Though I do hope he eventually buys a few of his own.

 

Exhibitions: “Surround Audience” at the New Museum

A few weeks ago I had a few hours to myself in New York and, after much consternation over both the Studio Museum and the Brooklyn Museum being closed on Tuesdays, I decided to check out the New Museum’s Triennial exhibition. Titled Surround Audience, the show is the third in the museum’s “triennial” program: group exhibitions which endeavor to spotlight important artists early in their careers, predicting the future of contemporary art. The result is a museum-wide showcase packed with awesome, diverse, young artists (so young, ugh) and I liked pretty much all of it! The size and scope of the show as a whole is daunting, and I could never write about everything I saw, so instead I’ve picked out the top five artists who stuck out to me.

 

huxtable-untitled-group-2015Juliana Huxtable: Untitled (Psychosocial Stuntin’) (left), 2015 and Untitled in the Rage (Nibiru Cataclysm) (right), 2015. All photos by the author.

benson-Juliana-2015Juliana Huxtable: Untitled (Destroying Flesh), 2015.

Juliana Huxtable

Artist-poet-DJ Juliana Huxtable has been making waves with her strong online presence, gathering a large following on instagram and tumblr. I had heard of her but wasn’t too familiar with her work, but her photography and poetry on view in Surround Audience immediately pulled me in. In her performance-photography, she creates personae inspired by pop culture, history, and mythology, with a narrative feel. Her photographs are interspersed with free-form poetry ruminating on identity, communication, capitalism, and generational history. In the center of the gallery with her pieces is a life-size sculpture of the artist created by Frank Benson (with Huxtable’s collaboration). With its tantalizing sheen and eerie green-gray color palette, the 3D-printed work captures the trans artist during her transition period, proudly showcasing her non-gender-conforming body while also placing it on a kind of sci-fi plane that matches the otherworldly feel of her self-portraits. Taken together, the works present Huxtable as both a changeable, larger-than-life fictional character as well as a bold, uninhibited, and real person.

 

Laric-untitled1-2015Oliver Laric: Untitled, 2014-15. Video still.

Laric-untitled2-2015Oliver Laric: Untitled, 2014-15. Video still.

Oliver Laric

Berlin-based video artist Oliver Laric’s untitled piece offers a study of transformation, appropriation, and narrative tropes within Western and Japanese animation. A string of short, hand-drawn animated clips are shown in fast succession, capturing characters and some objects at the moment of transformation, with humans turning into animals, alien creatures, mechanical contraptions, etc, but the full change never shown as it blinks to the next shot. There are also moments where the act of drawing is shown, as strokes of line and paint daubs coalesce into figures. The video as a whole seems tailor-made for internet-savvy folks, with references to furries, Disney, anime, and Saturday-morning cartoons, but it’s also easy to interpret its constantly shifting forms as a commentary on contemporary society, on a fast-paced culture that must endlessly re-appropriate the old into something new, preying on our sense of nostalgia. Honestly, I just loved watching it, the animation is beautiful and fluid, the premise is inventive, and the ambient score is hypnotic.

 

Kotatkova-NotHowPeopleMoveButWhatMovesThem5-2013Eva Kotátková: Not How People Move But What Moves Them, 2013.

Kotatkova-NotHowPeopleMoveButWhatMovesThem1-2013Eva Kotátková: Not How People Move But What Moves Them, 2013.

Kotatkova-NotHowPeopleMoveButWhatMovesThem2-2013Eva Kotátková: Not How People Move But What Moves Them, 2013.

Kotatkova-NotHowPeopleMoveButWhatMovesThem4-2013Eva Kotátková: Not How People Move But What Moves Them, 2013.

Eva Kotátková

I’m pretty sure I let out an audible gasp of delight when I came upon Eva Kotátková’s installation. Her collection of performative sculpture immediately reminded me of one of my favorite artists, Rebecca Horn, but pushed to even further extremes than Horn’s early body extensions. Kotátková’s work employs cage structures and prickly objects to create interactive tools and faux-appendages, accompanied by collage-drawings diagramming more elaborate creations. I love the possibility of her work, with images of hypothetical performers coming to mind as I viewed each piece (there were scheduled performances, but I missed them). Statically, they visually interact with each other within the installation, set against a cheery yellow backdrop that contrasts with the slightly menacing effect of the metal bars and rods that make up the sculptural shapes. Like Horn, Kotátková explores bondage as a concept, and her contraptions encourage users to consider the balance of bodily freedom and containment as they both hamper and enhance movement, along with the psychological effects of institutions that enforce these controls, like prisons and hospitals.

 

AkunyiliCrosby-anndwebegintoletgo-2013Njideka Akunyili Crosby: And We Begin to Let Go, 2013.

AkunyiliCrosby-thread-2012Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Thread, 2012.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

It’s no secret I love collage, and these large-scale mixed media pieces by Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby stopped me in my tracks. Her recent marriage to an American and move to Los Angeles serve as the context for these multi-layered portraits. For her, combining different styles and visual sources is a direct connection to her cultural history, referencing how colonized countries have often been forced to assimilate the art of Western cultures into their own traditions. With an eclectic array of source materials and brilliant color schemes, her works capture simple, intimate moments between lovers, focusing on expressive body language in her figures while the collage elements taken from Nigerian magazines capture the country she left behind. They drew me in almost immediately with their large size and tactile mixed-media layers, encouraging a close, lingering look.

 

Domanovic-SOHO-SubstancesOfHumanOrigin-2015Aleksandra Domanović: SOHO (Substances of Human Origin), 2015.

Domanovic-SOHO-SubstancesOfHumanOrigin2-2015Aleksandra Domanović: SOHO (Substances of Human Origin), 2015.

Aleksandra Domanović

Born in Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Berlin-based artist Aleksandra Domanović is concerned with the history of technology within her home country, and especially women’s roles in it. Her installation for the Triennial is the third in a trilogy of works connecting science-fiction, technological history, and the representation of women. Here, she has created three 3D-printed sculptures modeled after the Belgrade Hand, an early robotic prosthetic invented in the 60s by Serbian scientist Rajko Tomović, displayed within a hanging curtain of plastic sheeting decorated with blood cells and sea creatures to suggest a contrast between organic and man-made materials. Though based on the same model, the three sculptures perform different actions and seem to have portray diverse abilities, suggesting the technological advances that have since been made and more that may still be possible in future developments. Their realistic fabrication but fantastical look gives them an uncanny presence, and as I observed them it was easy to make mental links to robots-gone-bad sci-fi tropes like the disembodied Terminator hand or the hodgepodge mechanical killer in Hardware.

Social Uniforms in Film: Trust (1990)

Trust+Hal+Hartley+4

I have always been interested in clothing, in how an individual’s fashion choices mark them as a certain type of personality and lead to assumptions about their character. Or the opposite: how our coded preconceptions about clothing make us view a person a certain way, because they want us to, but in fact their outfit hides a truth about them, such as tattoos, or scars, or inner desires and thoughts. A conceit within film that I find myself increasingly more attracted to is the idea of characters using clothes as a personal uniform, finding that one outfit that encompasses how they would like to present themselves to the world. These are not necessarily military or superhero or employment-related uniforms, but a self-appointed costume, repeatedly and often exclusively worn, like a cartoon. Many filmmakers employ this concept as a way to subtly communicate something about their character, taking advantage of the visual nature of the medium as well as its unreality. There are various occurrences of this from Charlie Chaplin to the recent Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, and in this series I’ll be discussing some of my favorites.

 

trust-adrienneshelly

Almost of all of Hal Hartley’s films have some version of this, which is appropriate considering the exaggerated theatricality and odd, emotive blocking found in all of his characters’ interactions. He creates a world very much like our own, but slightly off, where people don’t connect in the same way we do, don’t speak with the same cadences or vocabularies. His early romantic comedy-drama, Trust, which happens to be my very favorite of his movies, features probably my favorite use of the cinematic social uniform. The main female protagonist, Maria (played by the very much-missed Adrienne Shelly), starts off as a snotty, shallow teenager who accidentally kills her dad with a slap to the face after telling her family she is pregnant and was recently kicked out of school. She is unceremoniously thrown from her home, rejected by her boyfriend and best friend, and left to wander her nameless suburb alone with no plan in mind. She meets Matthew (Martin Donovan), an angry twentysomething computer engineer living with his abusive father (John MacKay), and the two immediately form an intense emotional bond, recognizing something of a kindred spirit in one another despite very different interests and experiences.

Maria spends the night at his house (to sleep! Get your mind out of the gutter, folks, she’s only 16), and after an altercation with his terrible dad she’s left with no clean clothes. Eager to get away–and take Matthew with her–she grabs a dress she finds in a hall closet and they both return to her family’s house. The dress is old-fashioned and conservative, with pale blue stripes, opposing her earlier outfit of trendy crop top and tight skirt in bright colors. It belonged to Matthew’s mother, who died giving birth to him and is rarely mentioned, but clearly a source of friction between him and his irascible father. Except for a brief scene of her in a factory uniform at her new job, it is the only thing Maria wears for the rest of the film, paired with lacy white tights, tan work boots, and sometimes her oversize letterman jacket (presumably her ex-boyfriend’s). She more regularly wears her glasses, too, which she had been too embarrassed to wear before. Her focus shifts from concern with the outer to concern with the inner.

While the narrative of Trust covers various themes–the relationships between Matthew and his father, Maria and her mother; Maria’s pregnancy and eventual abortion; a baby kidnapping; Matthew’s complicated relationship to technology–the center is the relationship between Matthew and Maria, and how they change one another. Maria’s unspoken connection to his mother’s dress is a visual marker of this. After meeting him she seems interested in maturity for the first time, in reaching out to others instead of being self-involved. She admits that she is ashamed of her stupidity, and of her youth, as she had spent her teen years dwelling on popularity and beauty, believing she could marry her high school sweetheart and have his child, never having to complete school or go to work. She is newly modest and resolute, shedding youthful pleasures and ignorance with a commitment to hard work and self-education. It is an extreme switch, partially a result of her mother’s call for penance after she seemingly gave her father a heart attack, and she spends much of the film rationalizing her status between childhood and adulthood, between dependence and self-actualization, the former visually marked by her continued wearing of her high school letterman jacket. The dress belonged to Matthew’s mother, and symbolizes his influence on her, but ultimately it becomes her own. The final shot of the film shows her putting on her glasses so she can better see him as he is led away by police, a strong symbolic moment that cements their strange but unbreakable bond.

Movie Review: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

agirlwalkshomeshewolffeat

Seen: At the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline.

Sometimes a movie can intrigue based solely on descriptors used when people talk about it. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is summed up as “the first Iranian vampire western;” it is made by a woman, and it is also shot in black and white, and it is also a sexy romance. Also also rock and roll. So, naturally, I eagerly awaited its release, and finally finally caught a showing at Coolidge Corner, in their ultra-tiny screening room that seats 14 people, and lo, it was good. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, the film follows the goings-on of a small, sad town called Bad City, whose denizens are lost and lonely, whose streets harbor a silent killer, a vampire who stalks repugnant men. Played by Sheila Vand, she never reveals her name, nor are her origins or motives ever made clear, but for one reason or another she drops her guard with Arash (Arash Marandi), a shy gardener-turned-drug dealer who is struggling to take care of his junkie father. The two embark on a tentative romance while she continues to secretly slay and he deals with complications of his own.

With a lingering, intimate visual style capitalizing on the deep shadows and ambiguous grays of her black and whit palette, Amirpour imbues her film with a quiet cool reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch. Her characters listen to hip lo-fi rock records, they choose to stare meaningfully instead of fill up the air with too much talk, they are troubled and interesting. The Iranian setting only legitimizes their coolness, as their music and style and dgaf attitudes seem to stand in for a kind of anti-authoritarianism. The two leads are both drop-dead gorgeous, and it would be easy to forgo any illusion of depth and simply focus on the will-they-or-won’t-they conflict of these pretty young people, ignoring culturally-specific trappings and horror undertones, but Amirpour doesn’t quite let us get away so easily. Through the character of The Girl she creates a sly commentary on female stereotypes- on victimhood, sexuality, passivity, and agency. The Girl is formidable but vulnerable, approaching her unsuspecting male targets directly, using their own predatory and presumptuous attitudes against them. She is lonely and a little sad, observing those around her from afar, working to protect women like Atti (Mozhan Marnò), a frustrated but resilient sex worker who in turn sees The Girl as a strange young woman who needs guidance. She is powerful and cryptic, flying down the street on a skateboard with her chador billowing around her like a superhero cape. Her clothes are a uniform, a black chador opened to reveal a chic striped t-shirt, black pants, and sneakers, representing the clash of cultures and influences experienced by Amirpour and other Iranian-Americans. She herself was raised in California, feeling “really Iranian” at home but not anywhere else, and for her the film (which was shot in her home town of Bakersfield, CA) was a chance to make her own Iran “that was as Iranian as we are, which is a mash-up of so many things.

I will not pretend to know a lot about Iranian culture or norms, I’m sure several details and nuances in the film were lost on me as an outsider. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night can likely be enjoyed on multiple levels depending what you bring to it. I brought with me my love of genre films, female protagonists, vampire stories, international cinema, and black and white cinematography, along with my interest women filmmakers and immediate attraction to the two stars. And I walked away supremely satisfied.

4.5/5

Pair This Movie With: Easily Only Lovers Left Alive, since we’re keeping it Jarmuschian, and really can’t we just bask in the glow of 2014’s overall vampire cool? Alternatively, if you’re less into romantic vampirism and more into weird mash-up westerns that transcend “foreign film” conventions, there’s Sukiyaki Western Django, an English-language western set in Japan from maverick filmmaker Takashi Miike.

Exhibitions: Adriana Varejão at ICA Boston

varejao-PolvoPortraitsI-ChinaSeries-2014-detAdriana Varejão: Polvo Portraits I (China Series) (detail), 2014. All photos by the author.

With large-scale paintings that seemingly ooze innards and self-portraits brushed with racial signifiers, Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão does not hold anything back. Her works offer a pointed commentary on contemporary race relations by referencing colorism, colonialism, co-mingled cultures, and cannibalism. The latter is the unifying theme of the artist’s first US solo exhibition, curated by Anna Stothart, though she and Varejão prefer the term “anthropophagy”- coined by Brazilian modernist poet Oswald de Andrade to describe the assimilation (“devouring”) of European culture by native Brazilians as a means of surviving during the colonial period. In this way, “the cannibal, which had long represented the paradigm of the indigenous savage” is reclaimed, and “the taboo of eating human flesh [is transformed] into a symbol of cultural absorption” (Stothart, 39).

varejao-EntranceFigureI-1997Adriana Varejão: Entrance Figure I, 1997.

varejao-EntranceFigureI-1997-detAdriana Varejão: Entrance Figure I (detail), 1997.

varejao-Carpet-StyleTileworkOnCanvases-1999Adriana Varejão: Carpet-Style Tilework on Canvases, 1999.

Varejão represents this concept both literally and figuratively in a range of media, including large-scale paintings, mixed-media installations, and sculptural tiles. Entrance Figure I, situated in the first room of the exhibition, probably reveals her themes most literally. A classical nude woman stands in the center, gesturing in welcome (referencing popular courtly decorations in Portugal and Brazil). Covered in floral tattoos and holding a spear, she represents an idealized indigenous warrior. Her right hand reveals a shocking scene behind her, a grisly depiction of cannibalism as nude men and women tear into human body parts, cooking them on a large fire. These images themselves are pulled from the illustrations of Flemish printmaker Theodorus de Bry, who illustrated the people of the Americas with incredibly broad strokes, never having traveled there himself. As Stothart notes, in the minds of colonizing Europeans, such images “became validation for forced catechism and cultural oppression” (Stothart, 41). In works like this, Varejão relies on stereotypes of indigenous peoples, long maintained by Western minds (often unconsciously), as well as viewers’ familiarity with omnipresent Greco-Roman motifs. We see a classically beautiful nude, but are thrown off by her allover body tattoos. We see a classically beautiful balustrade setting, but are then repulsed by the intense scene of cannibalism and “savages”. The blue-and-white painted style of this piece and many others is a further reference to colonial ceramic tiles, subverting a domestic tradition into something far more sinister.

My favorite element of Varejão’s work is her penchant for Cronenbergian body horror. Several of her pieces are literally spilling over with fabricated blood and guts, others pucker like human skin. The artist breaks through the facade of harmonious cultivation, of benevolent colonizers, of imposed “civilization.” These nicely painted tiles are falling apart to reveal the human detritus inside, a not-so-subtle reminder of Brazil’s (and all of Latin America’s, really) violent past due to European takeover. In her work, Varejão asserts that there is no hiding that past, even today, for it remains an integral part of Brazil’s cultural identity. Wall with incisions à la Fontana is a canvas that has been slashed as if with a sword or knife, cutting into the painting to expose blood and tissue, an update of the cut canvases of Argentinian modernist Lucio Fontana. Map of Lopo Homem II turns a 16th-century Portuguese map into sutured flesh, with gaping wound torn through the center: a visceral representation of map-making’s benefactor, world conquest, and a nod to the adage, “history is written by the victors” (and of course in most instances in Western history, that means white people). As Federico Rosa points out, in human affairs, “beauty and destruction often have to coexist” (Rosa, “Adriana Varejão: A History of Flesh”).

 

varejao-MapOfLopoHomemII-1992 Adriana Varejão: Map of Lopo Homem II, 1992.

varejao-Folds2-2003 Adriana Varejão: Folds 2, 2003.

varejao-exploratorylaparotomyii Adriana Varejão: Exploratory Laparotomy II, 1996.

varejao-exploratorylaparotomyii2 Adriana Varejão: Exploratory Laparotomy II (detail), 1996.

varejao-WallWithIncisionsALaFontanaHorizontal-2009-11Adriana Varejão: Wall With Incisions a la Fontana-horizontal, 2009.

One gallery is devoted to a third and integral aspect of Varejão’s practice: her exploration of race and colorism. For her recent “Polvo” series, she experiments with skin tone and racial perceptions in both paintings and mixed-media installations. Polvo Oil Colors from 2013 features a collection of paint tubes with labels like “coffee with milk,” “half breed,” and “mostly white,” all descriptors taken from a 1976 census in which Brazilians were able to identify their own race. Having created the paint colors, Varejão then uses these unique racial signifiers in a number of subversive portraits. For Polvo Portraits (Seascape Series), she commissioned a traditional Brazilian artist to paint multiple copies of her portrait, which she then altered using different skin tones so that her face suddenly moved within numerous racial categories. Such works point out the limiting and narrow-minded views of race within contemporary society, views that have carried over from the complex racial hierarchies established by Europeans when conquering South America. The artist challenges her viewers to consider how skin color affects their view of a person, specifically of a woman, silently pushing all of our unconscious prejudices and assumptions about race and ethnicity to the forefront of our looking experience.

In the final room of the show, there are a few paintings taken from a series dedicated to empty tiled rooms, in which Vareão chooses to forgo the sculptural guts for a more subdued composition, merely hinting at unseen acts of violence through stark settings and anonymous blood. The large-scale canvas The Guest perhaps makes the biggest impact of the whole show. Its bright white tiles seem to pop out of the wall, a believable three-dimensionality that invites the viewer into the painted space, only to meet them with a mysterious pool of blood. There is no visible body, no attacker, no weapon, no police tape or clean-up crew, no indication of the titular “guest.” Upon viewing this work, I was immediately reminded of Varejão’s peer Teresa Margolles, whose work Limpieza features a man mopping a palatial floor with the blood and grime of Mexican crime scenes. Margolles is literal and aggressive with her use of human remains to comment on the violence that has become commonplace in her home country; Varejão is similarly confrontational and visceral, but filters her commentary through history and metaphor so that the overall effect is more open-ended. Her presentation is varied in material and style but consistent in its iconography. She captures our attention with her unsettling compositions and forces us to consider why we are unsettled, why we feel discomfort when met with the atrocities of the past and the remnants of colonialism found in the present. Her work is strange and academic and often esoteric, but its full-frontal approach makes an impact regardless of context, and this exhibit is sure to stick with me for a long time.

 

varejao-PolvoOilColors-2013Adriana Varejão: Polvo Oil Colors, 2013.

varejao-PolvoPortraitsI-ChinaSeries-2014Adriana Varejão: Polvo Portraits I (China Series), 2014.

varejao-PolvoPortraitsI-SeascapeSeries-2014Adriana Varejão: Polvo Portraits I (Seascape Series), 2009.

varejao-TheGuest-2005Adriana Varejão: The Guest, 2005.

varejao-ThePerverse-2006Adriana Varejão: The Perverse, 2006.

Sources:

Federico Rosa. “Adriana Varejão: A History of Flesh.” The Culture Trip. http://theculturetrip.com/south-america/brazil/articles/adriana-varej-o-a-history-of-flesh-/

Anna Stothart. Adriana Varejão. Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2014.