Wellesley’s ‘Body’ also has a brain
By Christine Temin, 1994
WELLESLEY — “Not another show about the body!” will doubtless be some people’s reaction to “The Body as Measure,” which opens today at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum. Theme shows about the human body have sprouted up nearly everywhere in recent seasons; in the Boston area, the Museum of Fine Arts’ “Figuring the Body” and MIT’s “Corporal Politics” come to mind. So Wellesley’s show, when it was announced, seemed superfluous.
It’s not. That’s partly because curator Judith Hoos Fox has taken an original tack. Unlike other “body” shows, hers doesn’t deal with functions and fluids; there’s no blood or urine. It’s not a messy exhibition. Nor is it aggressive or angry: The politics here are subtler. Finally, the show succeeds because of the talent of its curator. “The Body as Measure” is, in fact, a perfect example of curatorial intelligence. Fox has pulled together nine artists from the United States, Canada an Germany: They weren’t an obvious, easy-to-identify group. She’s selected pieces that date from 1963 to 1993, editing superbly to create a gallery where works connect visually and philosophically.
You hear one work before you see it — before you even enter the gallery, in fact. Then sound of the artist’s shoes walking endlessly back and forth are part of Denise Marika’s travels between two bathroom medicine chests, her blurry form appearing inside them, on a wax shape that looks like a sink. Her body is measuring both time and space; she’s a human clock.
The first work you actually see is Canadian artist Micah Lexier’s “Book Sculptures: Three Generations (Female).” which is also about measuring [see photo]. Lexier makes stacks of fake “books” out of wood (which is of course the raw material of books), and on the stacked spines he prints photographs of three generations of women standing back-to-back as if to see who is taller. The lines between the books divide the stack into even units of measurement; the curving spines make the books look as if they’ve been printed on Venetian blinds.
The theme of family relationships is also addressed by Elizabeth Cohen and Lorraine O’Grady. Cohen’s “Flashpoint” is a humming horizontal installation whose main elements are a row ( … )