Phone Booth Gallery is proud to present “Smell the Glove,” a group exhibition dedicated to the legendary heavy metal spoof Spinal Tap. This online exhibition channels the satirical energy of the ‘80s phenomenon and will run from July 11 to July 31, 2009. This is an online only exhibit, and can be seen via www.phoneboothgallery.com.
Spinal Tap poked fun at the crisis ridden hard rock scene without squelching its romance and the artists of Smell the Glove do something similar: they parody pop culture’s vanity while embracing its pleasures. The highs and lows of cultural melodrama are exposed as laughable, but they remain gripping.
The exhibition’s poster, designed by Print Mafia, is a grainy image that, if not for the scraggily comic faces of Spinal Tap’s band, would seem sinister. Dominating the lower half of the poster, Stonehenge’s looming boulders glow purple and foreshadows the tongue-in-cheek approach to historicity coursing through much of the exhibition.
Brian Banks’ deftly painted portrait of metalhead Nigel Tufnel equates dumbness and mystique. The figure’s vacuous expression exposes the glamour of his classically naked pose, leopard skin rug and glowing amplifier as gaudiness. But Banks’ painting suggests that gaudy is more fun than glamour could ever be.
A sculpture by Illworx makes Spinal Tap’s song Stonehenge a 3-D reality. Called Stonehenge was Nearly Trampled by a Dwarf, the sculpey and fabric figure dances in front of a painted orange backdrop, embodying the clueless euphoria of an imaginary prehistory. Handiedan uses her signature style to get to the heart of Spinal Tap’s legacy. Her nostalgic print brims with cultural references while remaining as showy as a pin-up and suggests that art, no matter how savvy and nuanced, is ultimately about instant gratification.
The self-aware absurdity of Smell the Glove is what makes it intoxicating. Grandeur, mystery, levity, slapstick and sarcasm all commingle in this multimedia exhibition, paying tribute to the hold pop culture has over us.