Michael Paul Britto, Carlos Sandoval de Leon, Diane Wah
Cindy Rucker Gallery
141 Attorney Street, New York, NY 10002
July 17, 2009 - August 15, 2009
by Yaelle Amir
Posted by Yaelle Amir
| tags: mixed-media
The summer exhibition on view
at Number 35 introduces the work of three fairly unknown New York artists in a
thought provoking arrangement. The
joining of Michael Paul Britto, Carlos Sandoval de Leon, and Diane Wah’s
oeuvres generates a reciprocal dialogue that ultimately serves to strengthen
the individual projects.
Wah’s black and white
photographs present close up views of seductive women and men in intimate
settings. The sexual tension that
arises from her images is reinforced by the titles of the works, I Fall in
Love Too Easily (2009) and In a
Sentimental Mood (2009), which evoke
familiar jazz references. The direct gaze of Wah’s subjects hints to
recognition of power—while the female portraits present a strong sense of
self-awareness, the men appear as if surrendering to their desire.
In his video and vinyl on
mirror works, Britto challenges the viewer to reflect on their reaction to the
use of the ‘N word.’ Although
perceived mostly as a derogatory term, it is extensively incorporated into
hip-hop culture. In the
two-channel video and mirror plaques What Up Nigga! What Up Son! (2009), Britto introduces the inter-changeable usage
of this word in black culture. In
the video, Britto repeats the two title-phrases in a seemingly infinite
loop. In placing these sayings
side by side, he tests the viewers’ reactions, bias, and associations towards
this loaded term.
Sandoval de Leon’s sculpture P+P (2009) is composed of mundane, yet socially charged
objects and raw materials. Made of
bulletproof plastic, the tall rectangular structure contains used bar soap,
empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and a “stash” book. Together, these components allude to a
deserted hideout or a temporary environment. Providing the viewers with associative everyday items,
Sandoval de Leon relies on their imagination to find personal and cultural
significance in his work.
These three artists share an
urge to dissect the structure of our society in building upon personal and
familiar elements, such as jazz, hip-hop, and raw materials. In so doing, the viewers are able to
acknowledge and confront their own sentiments on the contentious subjects of
race, appropriation, power dynamics, and our culture’s unrelenting detritus.
Images: Michael Paul
Britto, What Up Nigga! What Up Son! (2009); Carlos Sandoval de Leon, P+P (2009); Diane Wah, In a Sentimental
Mood (2009). Courtesy of the artists and Number 35.