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At a time when bodily autonomy is questioned and threatened for so many, taking another look at corporeality is necessary. Featuring 17 artists and installed at ltd Los Angeles’ secondary location in the Hollywood Hills, Figure as Form, curated by Katie Bode, gives us an updated survey of feminist-leaning considerations in physicality, sexuality, visibility, and cultural identity. Flesh is centered as subject, and the primacy of subjective narrative in art about bodies is acknowledged. Yet the work occupies domestic space as objects, leaving it feeling oddly apolitical.
Considering the work is installed in a home, some pieces are rendered nearly invisible. Roger Herman’s ceramic vases meld the erotic with the domestic, joining labor with sensuality in a way that refuses kitsch. Placed along the kitchen counter though, they are as easy to lose as they are thrilling to find. Other work visually pops: Ellen Schafer’s futuristic Fast Fashion (how I learned to be in a body xs s m l xl) (2016), with an aluminum structure and a silicone organ-like slab, strikes the viewer immediately even as it is resolutely placed against the wall like a plant stand. Throughout, Bode’s curatorial choices are matter of fact and devoid of maudlin sentiment, allowing the work to speak for itself, even if it’s muffled by the density of its arrangement.
In Figure as Form, abstraction is employed as a strategy to explore the intersection between sex and femininity, which opens a dialogue about age, self, and skin. But if a body is but an aesthetic vessel, it lends itself to fetishization. Perhaps then, the vase is just a vase, staged as a prop in a beautiful room.
Figure as Form runs August 28-October 2, 2016 at ltd Hollywood Hills House (2801 Belden Drive, Los Angeles CA 90068)