Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cockfight: Gloves on, Pants Down, The ARTery, September 19 - October 23*

As either the third in a series of ongoing curatorial experiments by Andrea E Lefebvre (with the addition of Amelia Aspen) or viewed entirely as its own formation separate from the two previous Catfight group shows, Cockfight has raised the bar for local exhibitions.

Image credit: "ohdear" S.C. Max and William Eastly, 2008

Considering each of the exhibiting artists are in many ways trying to one-up each other, the level of standards kicked itself up a notch culminating in several rounds of live goodhearted boxing matches on opening night. Playing up the cock-etterie of masculinity with plays on individualism, sexuality and the tongue-in-cheek trials and tribulations of being a young, cute, hipster boy, Cockfight does round up a solid cast of artists that deal directly with their contemporary existence in Edmonton.

Introducing new media works to their repertoire include Sean Borchert (who, although he may have been the baby face of the group, nailed all of his boxing opponents’ balls to the wall) and Luke Gallivan-Smith, who finally unmasks his mischievous actions in a state of self vs everything else. While Gallivan-Smith presents documentation incorporating his alterations within the city, Borchert provides a multimedia sound and sight experience that caters to a more private viewing experience amidst all of the conscious posturing. The range of sensitivities and grandstanding certainly exudes testosterone that often releases as confidence, but there is no clear reigning cock of the walk within the exhibition. As with the old-timey boxing matches and matching handlebar mustaches, the atmosphere of the show and the works opens up the theme with humour and showmanship—the one major criticism of Catfight was the heavy attention of female-to-female violence that only reiterated instead of challenged the loaded theme.

Other notables include the photographic series between SC Max and William Eastly, adorning most of the back space with esteemed portraits of Max and her gigantic cock in various environments. Other mentionables include not just which cock is behind which work, as women artists are also included in comparable ratio to men participating in Catfight, but it’s notable to see who’s also been included in the exhibition, as local faces from the arts community are also subject matters in many of the works. A camarderie and mythology of local artists working with and for each other is clearly unfolding, and it’s not so much a fight as it is a welcomed challenge to artists and viewers alike. V

The ARTery (9535 Jasper Ave)

*First published in Vue Weekly, September 25 - October 1, 2008

No comments: