January 7, 2010: Alessio Delfino

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Alessio Delfino, Metamorphoseis, 2009

Alessio Delfino, Metamorphoseis, 2009

Meanwhile across the hall from McKenzie Fine Art is Kips Gallery. I've seen a couple of things there that were okay but I didn't write them up for one reason or another. Mostly I go in because they're directly across the way from Valerie's gallery and if I'm there I might as well. This time, too, I saw that the show involved nudity, so I figured I could stop in.

The show is Alessio Delfino's Metamorphoseis. The gallery verbiage on this is not to be believed -- it's almost a conceptual piece in itself, some kind of dada satire: "The grandeur of Alessio Delfino’s Metamorphoseis -- a synthesis of photography and video in the purest sense -- comes from a perspective on fashion fused with an acute awareness of both fine art and history.... Metamorphoseis is a work of art that deserves serious attention, not only on the level of being a spectacle (which, in a sense, it is), but also on two other irreconcilable issues, namely connoisseurship and representation."

Wowie zowie, sounds just incredible, don't it? The purest synthesis of photography and video? Connoisseurship? Representation? Bow down before my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Or not. What it actually turns out to be is, as usual, an excuse for a photographer to get women out of their clothes. Which is fine as long as one is honest about the enterprise. Alessio talked a number of women into getting naked, being painted gold, and standing in the same pose. Then he took their photos and printed them out all the same size -- nearly life size -- and put them all in a row on the wall. On the other wall he's got a video of the women, also all in a row, all morphing into one another via the very cutting edge of 1991 video technology.

The excitement in the gallery is palpable. Oh, wait, no, I meant boredom. Someone had burned about a metric buttload of incense in the room, too, I guess in an attempt to induce a boudoir atmosphere or something. Plan failed.

Let's quote the verbiage (by Robert C. Morgan) again: "Delfino has done the research. In selecting his 'models,' he decided not to go for professionals but to choose everyday ordinary people. In making his selection, he would converse with each woman in order to understand her character." Funny how, although he supposedly chose ordinary women, all of them ended up being approximately the same size, shape, and ethnicity -- the same approximate size, shape, and ethnicity of anyone on the cover of Vogue or W (or Maxim, for that matter). Why is it whenever a photographer starts going on about the beauty of Woman and the cultural importance of femininity, they always seem to end up with the same kind of models the fashion industry pushes as sex objects?

More verbiage: "He would then try and compare the women with one of the Athenian goddesses. He aspiration [oh god, sic] was less concerned with expressing erotic qualities than in emphasizing the concept of natural beauty over the mediated notion of instantaneous glamour." Natural beauty, right. Which explains why none of the women have body hair and at least two of them have obvious breast implants. Also, apparently Athenian goddesses over 35 need not apply.

The show, in case my tone hasn't made it clear, is a complete waste of time, and that's even though it only takes about eight seconds to take in the whole thing. Investing that eight seconds in almost any other activity -- including staring off into space in the empty hallway -- would be wiser.

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