Artnicks Post by Maria Stenina :: Aug 9, 2010

"I am up again past midnight, having sworn I would crash old-lady style. I am g-chatting with Alicia Ross, who is trying to finalize a name for her upcoming solo exhibition for the moment entitled Hot Mess. I like it. The name and the new work, which is based on phrenology, the study of two-dimensional maps outlining the sections of the human head that drew correlations between the shape of one’s skull and specific mental faculties. This diagram of the head as well as the basic theory of phrenology—“reading” the surface of the head to determine personality, morality or character—is what inspired the aesthetic and concept of this series. Having previously interviewed Alicia for the Art:21 blog, I am familiar with her approach to the exploration of the woman's place from a moral standpoint, as well as in the media. Her past subjects (pardon the pun) have hung tightly suspended between power and subjection, cliche and self-expression. They screamed and yet were faceless, symbolic, distorted by the internet images Alicia uses for her references. These women are different. I know them. Or I feel like I do. I have already judged them along with the media,condemned some and celebrated others. Their faces are iconic in shame and exposure, recognizable even in distorted color and broken pixels (which, in this final form, are cross-stitches). Miley Cyrus, the Octomom, the Tot Mom, Lady Gaga, Mrs. Duggar....they have all been stitched into a hot mess of the contradictions and parallels of womanhood, motherhood, and celebrity."