From the corner of the eye at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1998)

R. J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 19 January 2011
This review first appeared in World Sculpture News, 4(4), November 1998, on page 54.

From the Corner of the Eye at Stedelijk Museum

From the corner of the eye [featured a selection of work by international artists] in 13 rooms and a separate satellite space. Based on the theme of current homosexual culture, the show illustrated “the queer gaze (as) articulated in unexpected ways, forming relations with the other layers which give an artwork its meaning”; [for identity, including] ethnic origin, gender, age, class, and lifestyle alongside sexual preference. Participating artists included Tariq Alvi, Rob Birza, Lukas Duwenhogger, Nicole Eisenman, Arnoud Holleman, Jochen Klein, Matts Leiderstam, John Lindell, Catherine Opie, Ugo Rondinone, Collier Shorr, Wolfgang Tillmans, Albert van Westing, and Cerith Wyn Evans.

The media selected were equally diverse with sculpture, video, and installation well-represented. With Inverse, reverse, perverse (1996), Cerith Wyn Evans inverts and questions the viewer’s reflection, drawing a distinction between positions, visual perceptions and realities. In a wooden shed-like enclosure, entitled Probleema (1995), Lukas Duwenhogger displayed one painting of four men in a bar scene opposite four paintings of solitary figures. The effect questioned the potential homosexual group association opposed to the less “threatening” individual figures and forced the viewer to consider possible sexual preference codes and attributes. John Lindell’s conceptual wall drawing played with different relationships between symbols representative of erogenous body parts.

Cerith Wyn Evans’s We go round and round in the night and are consumed (1997) was a suspended circular, metal form with attached neon-lit lettering. The work recalled discotheque suspensions with commentary and ingeniously complimented Tariq Alvi’s popular projection Videos within capitalism (1996), which included sound clips of dance music. Alvi, born in England of Pakistani descent, employs a strategy which gives multi-layered interpretation and debate in an early segment set to gay-identifying disco music, he shows a commercial representation of a dalmation that becomes a fetishized object, simultaneously recalling insipid capitalist-driven packaging and singles-oriented bars and “cruising”. Later, he juxtaposed clips of haute couture runway models against ordinary people in a shopping mall, suggesting the top-down impact of commercialized clothes, accessories, and its effect on our lives. With Alvi’s work, everyone and everything is subjected to potential critique, and may appear naïve, yet exhibits a certain refreshing cynicism.

From the corner of the eye clearly showed the diverse practices of artists approaching gay subject matter and the complexity of life within which sexual orientation interacts.