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A recent tweet from queer poet Wayne Koestenbaum reads: “A wise friend told me that cruising—as pastime, praxis, quest—was dead.” Cruising culture once solely relied on discreet but specific coded physical signals that are becoming increasingly digitized by hookup apps. As the old choreography of cruising fades, sexual seduction now goes down in the DMs. Oren Pinhassi’s One in the mouth and one in the heart at Skibum MacArthur romanticizes forbidden desire and the analogue methods behind cruising.
A series of umbrella-like structures dominates the room, evoking beachy public showers, some fit with translucent glass smeared with Vaseline into greasy, rosette patterns. Here, surfaces are sage-colored and hard but with texture that looks pliable and hand-formed. In PDA I and PDA II (all work 2018), steel poles are wrapped in burlap then slathered with plaster like sunscreen on a bare back. In contrast, One in the mouth and one in the heart includes clear toothbrush holders without the toothbrushes as a mouthy double-entendre. Ideas regarding filth and hygiene parallel issues of private versus public in Knee Deep, where a crude basin waits behind a freestanding shower curtain, inviting the viewer behind the curtain to wash up or watch. In Drip Dry, a holey peach-tone towel hangs stiff over a metal bar installed into the wall whose missing fabric elicits a frown, gaping and sagging around negative space. A rag whose purpose is to wipe away grime, left behind to offer evidence.
Pinhassi’s show is both sexy and sad. Sheer plastic shower curtains and foggy glass elicit a sense of taboo fantasy and the voyeuristic potential of a rendezvous. In considering the body as architecture, Pinhassi asks after its condition where the bare bones of neglected outdoor umbrellas feel melancholy. If anticipatory nostalgia marks our era, Pinhassi’s sculptures are monuments to connections lost—whether by withering bodies, bad politics, or a compulsive use of technology. The artist’s hand is evident in its absence with a sculptural style that highlights physicality, collapsing place in order to create an abandoned world of reverie.
Oren Pinhassi: One in the mouth and one in the heart runs April 7–May 19 2018 at Skibum MacArthur (1989 Blake Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039).