This solo exhibition by New York-based artist Alix Pearlstein pairs sculptural installation Harem ROOM-1 (2016) with her video Two Women (2000). Both works are grounded in a psychological understanding of human motivations and interactions, grappling with the complex interplay of desire, objectification, individuality and social hierarchies.
The installation consists of an arrangement of feline, figurative objects on the gallery floor, arranged using sight lines and grouping to foreground social hierarchy, affinities and affections. “Harem" in this context refers to a multiplicity of ideas: most obviously, a group of females perceived as centering around a particular male, and all that entails; but also the lesser-known definition of a collection of like, fetishized objects. The video, meanwhile, shows a man pacing against a blank background, eyeing a magazine cutout of a nude woman as it dangles in the foreground. A voiceover of coaxing suggestions is punctuated with responsive moans and sighs. Desire as portrayed by the media, replete with tensions between “real” and “fake”, play out for the male performer – subject matter Pearlstein has grappled with for decades.
Alix Pearlstein (b. 1962 in New York, NY) is particularly known for her work in video, performance and installation. Widely exhibited domestically and internationally, solo exhibitions of note include deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA; Ballroom Marfa, TX; On Stellar Rays, New York, NY; Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, GA; The Kitchen, New York, NY; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL. She is a recipient of the FCA Grants to Artists Award, is on the faculty of the SVA MFA program and serves on the Board of Governors of the Skowhegan School.
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