Magazine article Artforum International

Jimmy DeSana

Magazine article Artforum International

Jimmy DeSana

Article excerpt

SALON 94

At once anonymous and familiar, the figures populating Jimmy DeSana's performative photographs are stripped of identity, their faces either cropped out of the frame, turned away from the camera, or obscured by objects both commonplace (gauze, motorcycle helmets) and of a more exotic variety (leather s/m masks). A sense of alienation pervades these images. Yet in this loose survey, the first exhibition of DeSana's work at Salon 94, the inclusion of his portraits of downtown habitues--ranging from such notables as Debbie Harry and William S. Burroughs to more obscure denizens of the scene--adds a foothold of accessibility to his more curious output, and gives today's audiences a sense of the now-faded East Village milieu in which DeSana worked.

Skilled in the art of negation, DeSana staged intimate scenes that tease out the erotic--in Pants, 1984, a model arches his muscular, shirtless back under bold lighting--yet the artist routinely undermined and lampooned this sexual content: The model's extremely large pants are filled with stuffing, comically emphasizing his ass and thighs. In this sense, DeSana's work seems to parody Robert Mapplethorpe's deadpan oeuvre. In 1979, DeSana published Submission, a photobook poking fun at notions of the body as a sexualized, gendered object. As the title implies, a power dichotomy is at play in the series--the camera assumes the dominant role, forcing the models into the passive "sub" position. The photos--five were on view here--are black-and-white, giving them a self-serious quality, yet, as in his other work, DeSana punctured that effect with dark comedy. In Masking Tape, 1978, a latex bodysuit is traded for the household adhesive, with which a male model has been mummified head to toe--scrotum, penis, nipples, and nostrils excluded. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.