Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nikki Rosato's Cut at Jonathan Ferrara; Nina Schwanse's The Solar Anus at Good Children

How are people like places? Most obviously, both have arteries. Urban electrical networks mimic our nervous systems while traffic travels down roads like blood flowing through veins. Such parallels are poetically explored in Nikki Rosato's Cut graphical series via her precisely sliced and diced road maps reconstituted into fanciful new interpretations of human interaction. In Connections No. 3, male and female figures comprised of streets face each other while traceries of interstate highways project from head and heart like stray thoughts and emotions. But Rosato's Self Portrait is an intricate network of dissected paper-map roadways cobbled into a 3-D bust like a ghostly shroud, a lacy nervous system shorn of flesh and preserved for posterity like a maze of cellular memories.

Curator Nina Schwanse named her unusual group show, The Solar Anus, after an essay by surrealist bad boy Georges Bataille. A one time seminarian turned librarian, Bataille was a philosopher-poet who was as visceral as the other surrealists were cerebral. Often shunned in his own time, his lurid incursions into the intersections of mysticism and sado-masochism eventually proved prophetic and set the stage for later cultural phenomena ranging from film noir and punk to Lou Reed and Thelma and Louise.  Here his day job as a librarian is commemorated in Kyle Eyre Clyd's installation emphasizing the fetishistic nature of the white cotton gloves used to handle rare books. Some nearby video projections by Matt Savitsky include a naked guy wearing a bouquet of flowers as a mask while getting pelted with apples, as well as a lurid head shot of a transvestite slowly and subtly changing expressions as the light slowly shifts, a technique that parallels the dreamlike flux of even Bataille's most transgressive works. But Jesse Greenberg's sculptures, some resembling building materials gone terribly wrong (see Brick Growth, bottom) are creepy for no immediately apparent reason. Meanwhile, from the ceiling, Mary Morgan's shiny black coils of (pre-digital porn) videotape dangle like decorative rococo excreta, while in the back gallery David Hassell's sleek, working tanning table, above, sports a custom finish like some curdled sort of animal skin.  Here our senses recoil even as morbid fascination lingers, yielding that classic Bataille amalgam of shock and sensuality mingled with an incipient frisson of horror. ~D. Eric Bookhardt

Cut: Mixed Media Graphics by Nikki Rosato, through Nov. 30, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471; The Solar Anus: Group Exhibition Curated by Nina Schwanse, through Dec. 8, Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427. Left: Brick Growth by Jesse Greenberg.