Rona Pondick

Article excerpt

Reading the massive pile of critical literature on Rona Pondick is like crawling naked through psychoanalytic razor wire. All the vague allusions to oral and anal fixations, the specious bandying about of terms like "repression," "compulsion," and "fetish," the detection of penises, vaginas, and breasts in every artwork--it's painful to read, not because of the uncomfortable psychic truths it turns up, but because it's so full of bad causal reasoning and outmoded shrink jargon. Not that Pondick doesn't ask for it; any artist who uses beds, baby bottles, and shoes as her signature materials is obviously tempting her viewers to play Freud.

On the surface, the principal works in Pondick's brilliant show certainly did appear to invite psychoanalytic readings. Grouped on the floor in one corner of the gallery, Milk/Milk, 1993, consisted of 17 roughly basketball-sized objects covered with saggy breastlike forms terminating in baby-bottle nipples. Scattered around the floor, Mouth, 1992--93, consisted of 600 roughly tennis-ball-sized objects covered with black flax that looked like pubes. Six of the little things have nipples, but the rest have mouths with rubber teeth. (In The Village Voice, Elizabeth Hess called them "cunt/mouths," though they look less like cunts than like scrota dentata.) Hanging from the ceiling above these works was Legs, 1993, 25 polyester-filled shafts covered in pink lace and terminating, at either end, in a brown man's shoe ("leg/penises," according to Hess). …