Yesterday's Post: Llyn Foulkes
While Foulkes rails against the projections of one corporate empire, Kaari Upson offers a parody of another. More so than many other media conglomerates, Playboy projects a very specific lifestyle—the prototypical Playboy bachelor who is something of an atavist, more at home in the ‘50s, as depicted in the AMC cable series Mad Men.Video Still from Kaari Upson's Grotto
With The Grotto (2008-09), Upson subverts the psychological process of projection by projecting her own creative output—not onto the actual grotto at the Playboy mansion—but rather onto the fantasy advertised by Playboy’s media empire and imagined in the artist’s head. As befitting our hyper-mediated world, a quintet of video projectors literally project over and across each other, then onto Upson’s parataxic distortion of Hugh Heffner’s fake grotto. With the artist in the role of the videos’ protagonist, Upson plays out her sexualized soft-core scenarios.
By peering through the chinks in The Grotto, we are given the opportunity to crawl outside of Plato’s metaphorical cave, and view Upson’s videos that show the artist setting up a scene as well as playing it out. In several projections, the artist’s fake latex breasts are made obvious, in contrast to the subcutaneous silicon implants in real Playboy Bunnies that inhabit Heffner’s space. Through the artist’s use of borderline gruesome art direction and the counterforce of female agency, Upson undermines the male heterosexual nostalgia championed by Playboy.
Kaari Upson's Grotto at the Hammer
Tomorrow: Jeffrey Vallance