The Ethics of Desire is the title of the currently running Ida Applebroog exhibition at Hauser & Wirth. In her decades long career, the New York native has frequently used her work to dismantle and reform sexual politics and its echoes in society (i.e. the women’s liberation movement, body politics and gender classification, to name a few). Her turbulent biography, from a childhood in a Jewish Orthodox family in the Bronx to her time in Chicago and California, gained further momentum when she relocated in New York in the mid 1970’s.
Applebroog’s current installation at Hauser and Wirth’s 18th Street Space underlines her inclinations towards fluid states of corporeality, and the theatricality of life as an ongoing performance. Benefiting from the gallery’s massive interior, mylar panels elevate towards the ceiling, manifesting Applebroog’s captivating visual language. Finished with her manual manipulation around their edges, monochrome prints of nude bodies possess sensual and eerie charm, all placed at a similar height and tone, given additional weight by the fleshy textures of the mylar they’re printed on.
Alluding to Plato’s arguments on desire and its determinative force on human beings en route to the “ideal life,” Applebroog’s flux of human bodies sport various props and postures, articulating desire as a timeless force as much as a co-opted consumerist drive. Catwalks on which the newest and the hippest goods are promoted, S&M culture with its fetishization of the urge to control and to be controlled, and even Weimar era angst of entrapment between two world wars are all joined through Applebroog’s juxtapositions. Accompanying the new body of work is It’s No Use Alberto, a video piece from 1978.
Mystifying and satirizing human condition, Applebroog orchestrates her creations through an omniscient tone, employing a theatrical narrativity and determined philosophical standpoint that emphasizes each human form in its traces of both concrete and ambiguous narrative roles. Details they possess, from prosthetic legs to hats from early 20th Century fashion, transfer certain characteristics to otherwise bare bodies. Their slim postures support a certain idolized aesthetic, yet the artist’s accentuated statement on body politics, embodied though a high volume of ‘props’, stresses her ultimate statement.
The Ethics of Desire is on view at Hauser & Wirth through July 31, 2015.
*All images are by Osman Can Yerebakan for Art Observed.
— O.C. Yerebakan
Hauser & Wirth [Exhibition Page]