Visual Arts Review: "Sex, Sexism, and Society"
Many artists address gender relations. Riva Leviten's arrangement of simple coloring-book cut-outs with scribbles on white, "Carrying on in the Great Tradition = Men are Men and Women are Dolls or Madonnas," critiques with simplicity, detachment and humor. Another recurring subject is the body. Roblee Hoffman's "Virtual Group" suggests the capacity of technology to transform but not erase the material body and biological identity. Tom Hauck, in "Sacred and Profane Love," targets conflicting images of sexuality as represented by mainstream society, moral codes and our impulsive biology. The struggle is phrased as the question of whether or not to reproduce-a baby wriggles between "sacred" Christ and "profane" naked couple, surrounded by scrawled mathematical equations, sketches of mechanical apparatus, sperm, houses, a clock and other miscellany.
Other successful pieces similarly re-mangle distorted representations of sex as a way of recovering dignity or power. However, some artists seem unable to transcend the clichs, and their work is just as obvious as the stereotype. Many artists reiterate the woman equals doll equation without Leviten's adroitness. But Joe Fekieta, Bloody Chiclitz and Dale Kaplan use sharper instruments: humor, enigma, insight. Fekieta's grotesque pen-and-inks, each accompanied by a six-line poem, lampoon sex and relationships as often tangled and ridiculous-think lots of vines and anthropomorphic gourds. Overall, "Sex, Sexism, and Society" puts up a good fight, whether hitting you over the head or searing you with images of injustice, then stitching you up with laughter.
"Sex, Sexism, and Society" is on display through March 12 at the Gallery of Social/Political Art at 565 Boylston St. near Copley (Green Line) and Back Bay (Orange Line) stations. Hours are Friday and Saturday, 2 to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 1:30 to 5 p.m.