Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sacabo at A Gallery for Fine Photography

What if you came home one day and everything was almost, but not quite, exactly as you had left it? Small but pervasive changes can suddenly become disturbing when discovered.  Josephine Sacabo has lived in the French Quarter since the 1970s, but lately when she returned from stays at her retreat home in in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, she was jarred by the graffiti she encountered on her daily walks from her French Quarter home to her Marigny studio. She was struck by graffiti tags that seemed far more misogynistic then anything she had ever encountered in San Miguel. As an artist who spent much of her life exploring the poetics of the feminine with the French Quater as a backdrop, the pop-misogynist messaging of the grafitti stuck her as an affront, but because she is an artist motivated by curiosity she decided to transform what she saw into something new, a body of work that involved the direct confrontation of her feminine poetics with the graffiti she found so disorienting.

Although this Tagged series reflects one artist's experience, it also serves to remind us of how artists have historically responded to disorienting times by producing profoundly psychological work ranging from Hieronymus Bosch's disturbing 15th century allegories to Banksy's recent Girl with Baloon canvas that self-shredded upon being sold at auction a few weeks ago. Here one of Sacabo's pensive, poetic nudes appears with the word “Lewd” in large, gloppy grafitti lettering, while another ethereal nude appears with the message “Real Ho Git Down On Da Flo Like A Batch...” scrawled across her delicate skin. The fact that the gangsta rap-style message was likely the work of a white gutter punk subsidized by his family back in suburbia makes the cognitive dissonance all the more peculiar. Sulk, a visual tossed salad of a woman's face and hands assailed by assertive words and graphics recalls German expressionism, but Bigotry, top, completes the transformation of Sacabo's original vision into a new, street noise-inflected hybrid, a visual vortex that comments on the graffiti commentary in a quirky gesture of aesthetic role reversal. ~Bookhardt / Tagged: Photogravures by Josephine Sacabo, Through December, A Gallery For Fine Photography, 241 Chartres St., 568-1313.