|curator's statement||may 2012 selection|
j u n g l e p u s s y
c u r a t o r : y e n i m a o
Flipping through the Visual AIDS archives, I'm well aware that they represent a subgroup of artists within a culture based on sexuality, and don't want to lose sight of the fact (or "and don't want to forget") that all the archive artists are HIV positive. We lost almost an entire generation to AIDS. I wonder what the contemporary art landscape would be like today if Jimmy DeSana, Martin Wong, Felix Gonzalez-Torrez, Paul Thek, Keith Haring and the many other Mothers were still here. With the accelerated generations of the art world, this is a major skip. The skip sharpened the already acute relationship gay men have with their own physicality and reflected physical images.
When I originally set out through the archives, my intention was to find works about occult-ish realizations of impossibility, simple magic. Instead, a related and more specific set of works surfaced that addressed ritual in a different way: as internal conversations that lead to the fetishism of private acts. It's said that spending too much time alone encourages your weird habits -- the needle drops into the groove and quirks get quirkier. Without a control sample, you're free to indulge. Artists mostly work this way; an isolated conversation in the studio turns into public spectacle. Something personal becomes a grand act.
I couldn't resist using Gregory Maskwa's juicy painting Jungle Pussy as the title work for this gallery. The fantastic image operates as a reflection of the source and the viewer, rather than as a description or direct commentary. It's an internal conversation, realized and distorted on contact. Ms. Sexy-Redhead-Lioness is the most outlandish expression of naked, nature-force liberation -- either she's a Tarzan/Jane type, a white woman born to the bush (that's not a jungle), or an actual lioness transformed into human form. The tableau dips low into heavy metal and fantasy kitsch. She gains full form by the viewer (Be her! Want her! Hate her!). It is fully integrated un-realness.
b i o g r a p h y
Yeni Mao was born in Guelph, Canada, and is based in New York City. He holds a BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and apprenticed in bronze casting at Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, Calif. Mao's work has been shown nationally and internationally, at Collette Blanchard Gallery, Jon Tomlinson Enterprises, Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, Rush Arts, Chashama, La MaMa Galleria and ISE Cultural Center in NYC, Shang Element Contemporary Art Museum in Beijing, Ardell Gallery in Bangkok, and Galleria Metropolitana in Santiago. In 2007 Mao was artist-in-residence at The Lijiang Studio in Yunnan and The Red Gate Gallery in Beijing. This summer he will be artist-in-residence at the Fountainhead Residency.