July 14-August 5th
Opening reception: Saturday July 14th, 6-10 pm
4100 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans
In Lewdicrous, Sally Heller and Nina Schwanse explore the language of sexuality through the ubiquitous symbol of the sex goddess. Presented in voluptuous yet evasive poses, this modern day idol speaks of forbidden promises and impending desire. Through still images and video, both artists focus on the choreographed gesture of the female as she addresses her audience.
At first glance she’s a pop culture goddess, but upon further study she’s an ever-present symbol of our oldest desires—both male and female. Her sparkling candy-coated exterior is on display for public consumption, but her gaze is turned away, as if to deny her audience her personal self. Slightly obscured by a veil of hair, her expression, in contrast to her provocative pose, advertises pleasure. A modern day pin-up girl, she reflects a culture obsessed with silicone enhancement, quasi-porn stars and prepackaged teen sensations and as an icon of desirability, she influences notions of body image, beauty and fashion. The iconography of her body and the ball is composed of random letters alluding to an unspoken and murky set of rules set by contemporary culture. Blending abbreviated text with explicit sexual imagery, she embodies the latest form of communication—sexting.
The installation Babe-Rental(dot)com references a website that features a selection of twelve faux web-cam girls, each representing a different calendar month and fulfilling an archetype that might appeal to a customer’s specific interests. The video displays the twelve babes in a void, a black hole that removes them from any established narrative setting; this blank site provides an empty backdrop against which the singular body mutates between characters on which a fantastical situation is projected. The girls repeat their names and various scripted gestures in their effort to seduce or entice. However, in essence these are sex workers who don’t deliver. Though they gaze directly into the camera, it seems they are producing these videos in a closed circuit, and collectively they function to form a single identity. These bodies combine into a single corporate unit—as individuals they are protected by their pseudonyms and by their umbrella organization. The Babe-Rental brand also engages in similar marketing strategies that are employed by legitimate corporations--they manufacture business cards that recreate the Vegas porn aesthetic but leave out essential contact information.