Sunday, September 29, 2019

Now That I'm a Woman Everything is Strange



As art show titles go, "Now That I'm a Woman, Everything is Strange" sounds edgy and of the present moment. The truth is more timeless and complicated. The title is a line from a song in the 1982 animated fantasy film, "The Last Unicorn," about a hopeful female unicorn on a quest to find out why she is the last of her species. She soon learns that unicorns have fierce enemies including an evil witch, who captures her. To escape, she relies on help from a sketchy magician who changes her into a young woman. It is the paradox of her new human female persona that inspired the song as well as the work seen here. Focusing on transformational magic as a timeless aspect of female identity, curator Jessica Bizer says the show "explores fluidity and shape-shifting as sources for feminine power."  

It is an intriguing notion that resonates on any number of levels ranging from ancient mythology to modern psychology, and may well be worthy of a major museum exhibition. This show, however, like many on St. Claude, seems more experimental and offhand, with a grab bag quality about it. Bizer's ceaselessly shifting “I'm Into Shapes” wall projection, top, at its best suggests the sense of magical possibility we associate with unicorns, but Nina Schwanse's “Tempestuous Pussy” drawings are evil witchery in the form of expressionistic demon cats with human breasts rendered in a style reminiscent of Willem de Kooning. “Girl,” above, a sculpture by Rachel Jones Deris, is eerie not only for its strange oracular eyes under a mystical star-burst emerging from her forehead, but also for its odd resemblance to teen eco-activist Greta Thunberg. Sophie Lvoff's photograph “Melon” of a neo-renaissance fruit composition  evokes fertility as a form of mystical mojo, while Rachel Avena Brown's wooden table inscribed with mystical signs literally rounds things out. All in all, it is a show that takes a freewheeling and loosely improvisational approach to timeless myths and mysteries. ~Bookhardt / Now That I'm a Woman, Everything is Strange: New Work by Jessica Bizer, Rachel Avena Brown, Rachel Jones Deris, Sophie Lvoff and Nina Schwanse, Through Oct. 6, Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427.