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DCG Summer Show


Xaviera Simmons, Index Four, Composition Six, 2013. Archival inkjet print, 127 x 101.6 cm

David Castillo Gallery
June 10–August 31, 2015

Is a group show a matter of taste? Just as one would in a home, the work in the annual DCG summer group show betrays the trace of the curator’s intrigue. There is a pleasingly consistent color palette among the works—aqua, black and white, neutral, and tropical pops of color. An established Miami tradition, this iteration highlights artists from the gallery’s roster alongside guests and includes some newcomers, notably Kelley Johnson, and a special section dedicated to Xaviera Simmons’s Index series.

From a purely formal standpoint, the cool, lush blues of Gamaliel Rodríguez’s ballpoint pen drawing/painting/smudge of a Soviet-style structure riffs off the cobalt tones of Johnson’s work. His Josef Albers–esque geometric lines snake out and off the wall (as if hallucinatory) and onto the floor, where they recall the watery volumes of an Olympic pool or the geometries demarking a basketball court. The vertical, rectilinear pair face each other in a chilly, monumental stand-off. Susan Lee Chun’s heavy medallions, oozing with petroleum products, seem to suck the light out of the room. Stinging the space, the deep rich black of Chun’s wall pieces zing with the charcoal notes in Adler Guerrier’s and the Bethany Collins’s works. Simmons’s wild, intellectually heavy identity politics series chimes with three blissfully unencumbered works by Pepe Mar, sharing their lusty exoticism.

The extended Simmons selection mirrors the artist’s work on view in the current group exhibition Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim in New York. This body of work features figures who have raised their own skirts over their heads, creating an indeterminate hourglass. Under the voluminous, ballooning skirts, the figures reveal a gangly collection of objects and talismans hanging from their waists. The effect is both strangely erotic and heavily loaded with semi-anthropological nuance. Among the objects making up this undercarriage are images (some of other artworks), flyers, and photographic portraits tacked on with laundry pins, vegetation, ceremonial masks, braids of hair, and dangling utilitarian objects such as tin cans and clay pots. The ensembles have a sense of weight, such as a tool belt/loincloth that carries all its baggage. In this case, items are sentimental—tied to memory and emotions—as well as practical. Some are identifiably cultural/traditional, while others are universally modern. Some reveal the subject’s legs emerging from the accoutrement, parted in an aggressive stance. There is a sense of plumage and pomp, but also of the weight of diaspora, of taking everything from the place one is from to the places one goes. In a reversal of roles, the burgeoning figure imposes itself on the viewer, despite of what is ichnographically a gesture of submission. To hold up one’s skirt, and in doing so literally block one’s face, disavowing the potential to return the gaze, is not a position of power. Yet, there is assertiveness in this gesture, the kind of self-amused exhibitionism that a young girl might delight in while she runs around her fifth birthday party. It seems to say, “here is everything I am.”