Clothes Make The Man: Works from 1990–1994, at Mary Boone Gallery
2017: The Mess and Some New, at Salon 94, NYC
Reviewed by Phoebe Hoban
We live in the age of the avatar, and over the course of several decades, Laurie Simmons has proven herself to be the ultimate avatar artist for our age. (Think of her shocking 2015 “The Love Doll” series: sophisticated Japanese sex toys beautifully chronicled in suburban household settings, like Dare Star’s classic 1950s character “The Lonely Doll.”)
Long before the Internet was all-pervasive, with its selfies, Instagrams and ubiquitous gaming, Simmons honed her art of using inanimate surrogates as stand-ins for human subjects. Back in the late 1970s, when Cindy Sherman was creating her iconic Untitled Film Stills, Simmons was on a parallel track, staging scenes of miniature plastic housewives in dollhouses.
Simmons played with larger dolls in the 1990s, cleverly dressing wide-eyed male resin models of actual Howdy-Doodyish ventriloquist dummies in vintage boys’ clothing and taking photographs of them in simulated situations. What did such boy-men fantasize about? Menage a trois? masculine muscles and derrieres? barbecued chicken?
Simmons imagined the scenes for them, depicted in comic-strip air balloons above the dummies’ heads. For her current show of this work, Clothes Make the Man, 1990–1994, at Mary Boone, the actual dummies, seated on miniature chairs and hung on the wall at eye level, are coupled with the series of photographs, entitled “Café of the Inner Mind,” creepily bringing to life the dummies’ erotic dreams.
To read the rest of Hoban’s review, go to Riot Material magazine: https://www.riotmaterial.com/laurie-simmons-avatar-for-our-age/
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