That Obscure Object of Desire: Luxembourg & Dayan gallery explores sexuality, fetishism and obsession

That Obscure Object of Desire: Luxembourg & Dayan gallery explores sexuality, fetishism and obsession

Things are set to get racy in New York City when Luxembourg & Dayan opens its new show tomorrow. ’That Obscure Object of Desire’ - inspired by Luis Brunel’s 1977 film of the same title - will transform the gallery’s elegant townhouse space on Manhattan’s Upper East Side into a chamber of seduction, with an array of provocative works displayed in arousing proximity.

Instead of showcasing objects that overtly express sexuality, curators Tamar Margalit and Stephanie Adamowicz have honed in on the dark side of desire. A thread of obsession ties all the exhibited works together. In the show, the process of object-making - an act that is intensely pursued by artists with an erotic-level of infatuation - is as important as the object itself. The artists showcased are repeatedly drawn to certain forms, processes and materials with corporeal associations - an aspect that recurs throughout their careers.

’We kept going back to the idea that the fetishised object for many of these artists is linked to the obsessive nature of his or her practice,’ say the curators. ’Whether it’s [Hannah] Wilke’s vaginal repetitive forms that she creates in various permutations or [Alina] Szapocznikow’s [lip-shaped] resin lamps, which she made twenty of, there is a compulsion to revisit the object many times.’

From orifice-inspired pieces to Robert Heinecken’s photographic fragmentations of the female figure, and Dorothea Tanning’s 1970 work ’Traffic Sign’ - a seemingly harmless, tweed-covered sculpture, until viewed alongside her pornographic watercolour and crayon studies - Luxembourg & Dayan’s exhibition is a fresh, albeit dark, take on the notions of lust and desire.

’Our main criterion was to include works that revealed themselves differently each time one approaches them,’ the duo explain. ’It was more about creating compelling pairings and points of intersection between the works. Almost all of the works in the show are small and relate to the human scale, such as an object that you would hold in your hand, or one you could sit on in the case of [Anthea Hamilton and Julie Verhoeven’s] "Fruity Seating".’

The gallery’s close quarters allow a dialogue to take place between the works, thus adding a further dimension to the show. The same compulsive thinking behind Hans Bellmer’s prints of his sexualised poupées also reveals itself in Heinecken’s photo-puzzles. Similarly, sculptural explorations of the body are the focus of both Anthea Hamilton and Alisa Baremboym, albeit in very different ways.

Presented in such refined quarters, the exhibition’s explicit nature is magnified to a level that creates a duplicitous experience that does its Brunel associations justice. Regardless of your bedroom preferences, we recommend nipping in for a bit of afternoon delight.

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