Performed, videotaped, and projected in the same space at Turner Contemporary, we are left with evidence--both cinematic and in the from of props--of Zachary Drucker's performance, The Inability to be Looked At and the Horror of Nothing to See. By the reflected, flickering light of the screen we can make out the body-sized stainless steel table, with an oily imprint of the artist's back. Surrounding this print of emollients-on-steel are scattered the tweezers used for the performance, evoking thoughts of Drucker as the love child of Yves Klein and Matthew Barney.Installation Shot of Zackary Drucker's
The Inability to be Looked At and the Horror of Nothing to See
at Steve Turner Contemporary Art
The video begins with the artist's voice. Spoken in a new-age breathy monotone, Drucker intones, "Cosmic energy flows through you and the body." On one hand, the large ball bearing in the artist's mouth reminds one of a suckling pig, but the pervasiveness of the inorganic stainless steel--the table, the tweezers, the ball gag--also brings to mind some horrific medical procedure. The tension of some impending Chris Burden weirdness is diffused with Drucker's calming words. We are told to breath deeply, and in the video, those closest to the body are instructed to touch it. Eventually the participants are asked to pick up the tweezers and depilate the body in front of them. The folks in the room readily pick up the tweezers, but there is a hesitation to pluck. Here it becomes evident that the artist has created some empathy for the body placed before them. We all know what it feels like to have one's hairs pulled out one at a time.Installation Shot
After a pause, the artist's prerecorded voice encourages, "Don't be afraid, the bitch can take it." There are some who pluck with gusto and skill; it's obvious that they've tended the edges of an arched eyebrow or plucked the aberrant hair.
The artist's voice continues with a litany of the body's faults and imperfections; the androgynous fat distribution, the freckles and moles. "You will never be a woman," speaks of inner turmoil and desire. The act of tweezing presents a dichotomy that is both helpful--bringing the body closer to the androgyny it seeks--and causing pain. The action manifests the conflicting attraction and revulsion that the androgynous body often encounters. In the end, the live audience is instructed to, "Step away from the body; turn around." The screen fades and the cycle repeats.Installation Shot
Teen and Transgender Study #1 - 4. Apart from the work being made by a non-female, non-teen, and non-transgender, White's photographs had all the pathologizing effect of a mug shot with all the empathy that can be garnered from reading a stranger's lab results. With TITBLAATHONTS, the viewer becomes the uncomfortable other in Drucker's depilatory salon, and in the end, the artist offers a way out through empathy.