"The unsung hero of the London underground art scene"
- Wolfgang Tillmans
"He dragged me by the hair around the dancefloor. I finally felt alive!"
- Susanne Oberbeck, (No Bra)
For his first solo show the multi disciplinary artist exhibits a series of collages compiled from heterosexual porn magazines ("because it's cheaper than gay porn"), depicting cut-up body parts and limbs that form hybrid humanoid entities, often entangled in apparently sexual positions, or trying to look sexy - yet the titles imply representations of institutions and figures of authority, or cliches of heroic manly behavior and technology used perhaps in cheap book titles.
These entities, while satirizing are also carving out a place outside of binary structures and judgment, western ideas about hierarchy and cause and effect. Aimlessly menstruating legs and seemingly non sensical sex positions undermine notions of agency and purpose, like sluggish, proliferating creatures exhibiting a "vampiric relationship between body and mind that is holding back evolution", trying to escape outdated 20th century ideas about sex and human interaction.
The seemingly inappropriate and cheap sexualization of institutions and figures of authority - the pope, the law, architecture, politics, power, language - largely made up of female porn models' body parts - images that would traditionally be perceived as immoral and irrational - highlights a hypocrisy of associating power and authority with masculine qualities.
Subverting gender expectations and placing itself outside ideas about morality and judgement ("boogie man" is in fact an entity made up of lush female breasts and body parts), the artist is not only poking fun, but also imagines more poetic, future human and sexual interactions as well as reproduction ("birth") that incorporate objectification and narcissism instead of dismissing them.
The playful, machine-like creatures are reminiscent of Deleuze and Guattari's notion of "becoming" as well as William Burroughs cut-up narratives intended to subvert western binary language systems - but unlike Burroughs Rax largely uses images of women to illustrate his ideas - which could be seen as feminist or simply because they were cheaper.
- Susanne Oberbeck (No Bra)
THE RESIDENCE GALLERY
229 Victoria Park Road
London E9 7HD
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