Spring exhibits at the Wex

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The Wexner Center's three spring gallery exhibitions offer a diverse serving of art, ranging from heavy historical to contemplative contemporary.

The first exhibit, "Human Behavior" by Nathalie Djurberg, comprises four lurid stop-motion videos of puppets acting out intense subject matter (try wrapping your mind around how long it took her to film these).

The initial video, "The Experiment (Greed)," addresses sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. In a dim-lit room, a fearful naked female is passed around from priest to priest. The distressing action is paired with skin-crawling music by composer Hans Berg and shown on a wall-engulfing screen.

The second and third videos present other forms of abuse of power. "New Movements in Fashion" takes on rigors of the female psyche thanks to a pin-thin beauty standard, while "The Natural Selection" depicts the cruelty of colonization and slavery.

One of Djurberg's messages is apparent in the video "It's All About Painting." After wolves in Army-like fatigues murder women and children shopping for groceries, one of the wolves is seen comforting a crying woman from the market.

There is good in all evil-doers, the artist seems to say, underlining the humanity of our society's most opprobrious individuals. Everyone is a victim of a victim.

The second exhibition provides an exciting historical foothold for the trio of shows. "Double Sexus" pairs the work of Hans Bellmer and Louise Bourgeois.

Although they never met, Bellmer and Bourgeois were 20th-century artists with a similar aesthetic and purpose. Bellmer used the deconstructed female form to protest the Nazi ideal of feminine beauty. Bourgeois' disembodied works rejected traditional gender roles and became more sexually explicit as her work matured, garnering her notoriety in the 1970s.

This exhibition puts Bellmer's and Bourgeois' work side by side. Five sections are organized by the common themes, such as their use of dolls and their study of androgyny, desire and formlessness.

Don't overlook the black metal stands. Each has three flaps to lift up, one at a time, to view tiny photos of Bellmer's re-interpreted dolls. You'll feel like you stumbled onto someone's rather creepy private collection.

Finally there's "The Tender Room" by Pipilotti Rist, a Swiss artist whose site-specific work is thought-provoking but hopeful, a gentle bookend to the preceding exhibits' in-your-face motifs.

Viewers are welcomed by a giant chandelier of white underwear with whimsical light patterns projected onto it. Meanwhile the back gallery beckons with warm light and music, and intersecting rows of projection screens show a dreamy video as colors sweep around the space.

The piece hugs viewers inward, and seating areas encourage them to sit and experience the questions the video presents together.

"I encourage that we use electronics not always to tell us stories," Rist said at a presentation during the exhibits' opening, "but to use as wonderlands."

Wexner Center

Through July 31

1871 N. High St., Campus