Sunday, July 7, 2019

Amalia Ulman at The Gallery at El Centro


From the first lightning bolts of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills: the artworld continuously electrified by depictions of women in societal bondage gear. Artists depicting the strictures that force women to conform to cultural mores; images of women made, if only momentarily, powerless or complicit, which whose artistic doubling, or performance of, is the critique. (And as these mores and roles mutate in time so too the art updates alongside the new chain.) And despite the critical intention's now obvious powerlessness to successfully confront or diminish such roles - as evidenced by its 40 years of continuous updating and still ringing true - Sherman et al. enjoy success in the market, press, and critical etceteras. (Successful critique would ostensibly outmode itself to that culture?) A success slightly ominous in comparison to the seeming lack of success of practices and images depicting women that oppose dominant hierarchies or act to provide fertile turf outside it, say A.L. Steiner. A culture, say a magazine or a museum, that can purchase an absolution to the images it wants through an art that gesticulates critique. But that its success is simply a culture that likes seeing - culturally approved - women in bondage.