Artists: Reza Abdoh, Jean Genet, Nash Glynn, Elliot Reed, Torbjørn Rødland, Heji Shin, Nora Turato
Exhibition title: Wish
Venue: Metro Pictures, New York, US
Date: June 17 – August 6, 2021
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures
Wish brings together works by Reza Abdoh, Jean Genet, Nash Glynn, Torbjørn Rødland, Elliot Reed, Heji Shin, and Nora Turato. In his seminal book The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Freud asserts that every dream is the expression of a wish. However, in dreams these repressed wishes often manifest themselves in distorted form in order to be tolerable to the dreamer. The works in the exhibition can be viewed as dream-images that represent desires considered too uncomfortable, taboo or salacious to the conscious mind. Wish is intended to unfold like a dream, with the wish exemplified by each artwork made available to viewers for interpretation.
In Jean Genet’s 1950 film Un chant d’amour, a voyeuristic prison guard excitedly leers at prisoners in their cells. In one well-known scene, he observes two prisoners struggle for intimacy despite the wall that separates their cells. The first man lustfully kisses around a hole in the wall while the second sticks a long straw
through it. Bending in front of the straw, his eyes closed and mouth wide open, he waits to receive something from his neighbor, who delightedly drags on a cigarette and leans down to exhale into it. A great gust of smoke shoots through onto the second man’s face before he wraps his lips around the straw, taking in the exhalation.
Torbjørn Rødland’s Intraoral no. 2 repeats the image of the open-mouthed man in Genet’s film. A figure reclines in a dentist’s chair, the mouth centered in the frame while a latex-gloved hand pulls down the bottom lip. Rødland’s photographs capture unsettling or bizarre moments in otherwise mundane scenes similar to everyday life. This incongruity, emphasized by a slick formal language that is informed by commercial photography, suggests narratives of seduction, perversity and disquiet.
Heji Shin photographed male models in NYPD uniforms and staged a porn shoot to make her series “Men Photographing Men.” The works engage the familiar “man in uniform” trope commonly enacted in, for example, the banal ritual of the bachelorette party. The porno cops arrive on the scene to titillate, whether to satisfy a rescue fantasy or, conversely, a masochistic desire to be punished and subjugated.