Annette Messager’s show À mon seul désir has a relaxed, unfussed immediacy that screams veracity.
Yes, we’re visiting the art world, the pages of Hyperallergic – “a forum for serious, playful, and radical thinking about art in the world today.”
The white walls of the space are copiously hung, salon style, with a mélange of disquieting drawings and small, black, figurative sculptures.
Oh dear. Never go full mélange.
[T]he artist really delivered the feminist mayhem she is known for, presenting a series of fresh and topical works that may just as well have come from the mind and hand of an artist half her (73) years.
Or even, as we’ll see, some fraction smaller than that. Readers curious as to what form this “feminist mayhem” takes will be thrilled to hear that Ms Messager has “created an eccentric menagerie of mythologies suggestive of the complexity of the female body, therein exploring concepts of the feminine.” Specifically,
Messager takes as subject free-flowing breasts, uteruses, and menstruation, pushing her ongoing artistic probe of the female body from outside and within... Perhaps the strongest works here are the loosely-drawn, menstruation-based pieces. “Mon Ketchup” (“My Ketchup”) focuses on the red menstrual flow of a seated woman with her panties around her ankles.
This, then, is the high point of the exhibition. Or put another way, it’s all downhill from here. And so we arrive at an artistic feat titled “Mon utérus à mon désir” (“My Uterus to My Desire”) and which, we’re told, “depicts an anthropomorphised, left-handed uterus, flipping the bird.”
The reviewer, an artist and author named Joseph Nechvatal, is rendered breathless by this endeavour. For him, it “sums up the intensity of the show… female flesh enacting insolence.” Well, the disdain is hard to miss. Though, given the hackneyed themes and general incompetence, which we’re expected to find both sufficient and compelling, perhaps while rubbing our chins, I can’t help wondering at whom said disdain is actually being aimed.