Home Bodies presents 23 artworks from the Museum’s collection, including paintings, sculpture, prints, and room-sized installations. The exhibition features Pop works by Claes Oldenberg and Joe Goode, dramatic sculptures by Cornelia Parker and Martin Kersels, as well as works by San Diego-based artists Jean Lowe and Manny Farber. The title playfully suggests the focus of the works on view: one half of the Museum’s 1001 Kettner galleries features art that makes reference to the human body, while the other portion showcases works with domestic images. Home and bodies.
For most of the works on view, the “body” is only implied, and the viewer completes the work through their physical engagement or their imaginative empathy. Mowry Baden’s installation, I Walk the Line (1967) is being presented for the first time in almost 20 years. Baden is an early innovator of art which asks the viewer’s physical participation to fully experience the work. In this work, the viewer enters the central aisle of the wooden structure, straddles a wooden railing that rises, disturbingly, midway, and walks across the work: the anticipation, process, and result of the walk become the piece.
Bruce Nauman’s photographic prints, present the artist’s face. Cropped to focus on the mouth and neck, the images capture the artist pinching and pulling his flesh into uncomfortable distortions. Whether perceived as comical or mocking, the poses immediately evoke a physical sensation in the viewer. Other works induce sensate responses from the viewer. While Valeska Soares’ fragrant tablet evokes a feminine sensuality, Martin Kersel’s kinetic limb is awkward and unnerving.
Other works on view focus on images of domestic trappings: home. Here, too, the figure is implied through the function of the things represented: empty beds, altered furniture, and accessories of daily life. By altering or isolating familiar objects, the artists invite viewers to reconsider their relationships to the depicted items. The result, whether celebratory or cautionary, reminds us that these inanimate things are necessary props in the action of daily life.