The Sexual Bronze Show
Ordering dinner was the worst idea; we should have just had a quick drink. We met for one reason, and it’s definitely not going to happen here. We both finger our foods, swirling the ingredients into each other on our plates, leaving us with two comminlged pools of indistinguishable goo; somehow it’s reassuring—it’s the only sign that we are on the same page.
Bettina Hubby’s exhibition, The Sexual Bronze Show, at Klowden Mann left me feeling like I was on the wrong side of a joke. It can be quite upsetting to be the only one in the room that doesn’t understand what is going on; it was fitting then, that I was the only one in the room. We live with immediate remedies for ignorance; who hasn’t Google searched a term moments after pretending to understand what someone is talking about? With so much information at our fingertips, rote learning nowadays seems less relevant. Many people have replaced flirting with liking and swiping, and have created online personas for themselves that match their offline personalities as much as a lemon matches a clothespin. Do you know Daniela? Yeah, I follow her on Instagram. That’s not what I asked.
Matthew Barney brought last year to a close with his bro’d out extruded bronzes forged as underwater cum shots. Bettina Hubby begins this year with life-like, wickedly twisted, diminutive bronze pairings that sit atop thirteen svelte pedestals. Each pillar stands as a separate little island, holding aloft two seemingly disparate objects, a ravioli and a gourd, or a yellow dishwashing glove and a roll of sausages. They coyly sit with one another, a sexual tension vibrating between them that evades the need for touching. It’s time for someone to make the first move.
I knew there were hidden innuendos with each of Hubby’s playful twosomes, and I am embarrassed to say that I still can’t figure them all out. After searching the web, with terms such as, what do you do with a pepper and a light bulb in the bedroom? I remain puzzled. On several occasions I determined that lube was the much needed third party. I weaved in and out of the arrangements, trying to determine the paired object’s compatibility. I could get into that…I see how that could work…maybe if you wrap the noodle around the…or maybe that actually goes in there…oh that’s nasty…not for me… well maybe…it’s late…I’ve had too much to drink and I need you now. Too cheesy? Well what if I threw in a handful of Q-tips? In any case, I’m considering bringing a pocket full of hotdogs on my next date.
In the backroom, much of Hubby’s humor is exposed. The deviant objects, suspended inside the confines of photography find a private space where they can break their awkward silence. Their bronzed bodies may be without dimension, but their hardened pent up desire is eviscerated, as they ruthlessly infiltrate each other’s parts. The kinky pairs’ solid materiality no longer restrains these forms’ lust for one another. The lipstick sloppily smears itself on the inside of the clam’s shell, sacrificing its own image for its carnal attraction. The floss shoots its load out like a chameleon’s tongue around the hard protruding end of a yam, and the kiwi finally gets its skin peeled back.
As I left the gallery I thought about how much our culture is overly sexualized, and how just about anything can lend itself to just that. The smooth crevices into which I insert my fingers, under the door handle of my car, the knob of the radio that I gently squeeze and turn, soft whispers escalating to wild moans. Envisioning myself on a deserted island, I imagine Hubby’s small objects washing up on shore. What would there use-value be to me? What would I do with floss, a razor or a noodle, a gourd, a light bulb or a turkey baster? Clearly the thing to do is ravage them, from here to eternity.
Images courtesy of Deb Klowden Mann