DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, currently featured three exhibitions of art respectively by Titus Palmira, Gaus (Cicciuzzo Gausman) and Burk Bode. While all three are entirely individual in nature, two of them might also be seen as overlapping a little, if not in theme, then in broad approach.
The longest running of the three – and potentially due to end soon – is Dark Underbelly by Titus Palmira. Occupying the upper White Gallery level, it presents some twelve self-studies designed to convey very focused feelings, as indicated by their respective titles. As might be suspected from the exhibition’s title, some of these feelings sway towards the darker side of our personality: self disapproval, inner demons, anger, with confusion and uncertainty sitting more to the edge of such darker emotions. Others within the selected images express something of the darker side of life – voyeurism, staking and hiding behind masks.
Most of the images are presented in monochrome; this makes the conveyance of their emotion more effective than had they been in colour. Conversely,where colour is present, our emotional response is also deepened by the strong contrast the colour presents to the surrounding monochrome images. So with Ugly On The Inside, for example, there is a sense of recoiling away from the image, a reaction which may not have been felt were it one among many colour images or, conversely, presented in monochrome alongside the rest. Similarly, the use of colour in Confusion (a Default State), evokes a greater sense of identification with a confused state of mind.
Humour also pays a part here as well – as seen in Before My Morning Coffee. But the truth is that all of the twelve images are so perfectly framed and presented, each one carries more than a spark of identification for the observer; I’ve little doubt anyone looking upon many of these images will fail to feel a tingling of subjective recognition, and inner nod of, “Yes, I’ve felt this…” Whilst elsewhere, we can objectively appreciate the mood and feeling each image expresses. For me, both subject response and objective appreciation come together in Don’t Tell Me the Moon is Shining (above) – a fabulous piece evoking something we have perhaps all felt: that moment of calm before our anger explodes in a destructive burst of temper.
We’re all likely familiar with the expression “the eyes are the windows of the soul”. Where it originates from is unimportant, but it perhaps has its roots in an observation by Marcus Tullius Cicero, Imago animi Vultus est, indices oculi eius intentio (literally, “the countenance (face) is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions”) – and it is this more rounded expression which I would suggest applies to the second of the exhibitions reviewed here: Le regard de l’âme (literally, “the soul’s gaze”), by Gaus, and displayed in the ground floor Black Gallery.
On the one hand – and most simply – the faces of our avatars are their most expressive element – just as our faces are in the physical world. Through the care we put into crafting them, shaping mouth, chin, nose, ears, and eyes, we imbue our avatars with an identity – perhaps the closest things they have to a “soul”. Thus, on the one hand, Le regard de l’âme offers an opportunity to reflect upon the sixteen head-and-shoulder portraits presented within it, and what they say about the avatars presented.
But I would also argue that there is something deeper here. The very care we put into crafting our avatars, and particularly their faces, become reflective of who we, the people behind them, are. This may be wholly conscious: a desire to give our avatar a look mirroring our own, or to express an aspect of our personality; but even when creating visually divorced from who we are, making it a representation of who we would like to be, still reflects some of who we in fact are. Thus, the faces of our avatars become something deeper: a portrait of ourselves; and it is this essence of self which is perhaps captured within this images.
With Shameless, presented across the ground floor and mezzanine levels of the Grey Gallery, Burk Bode offers an exhibition of black-and-white images which steps well clear of the ideas of identity present within Dark Underbelly and Le regard de l’âme. Instead, he offers a series of images best noted as being NSFW, given their depiction of sexual acts.
This is a very in-your-face exhibition (literally, given it occupies the gallery space adjacent to the main entrance) in which the observer is clearly cast into the role of voyeur. Indeed, given the subtitle of the exhibition, They are watching us, there is a suggestion that our very presence may have triggered at least some of the acts portrayed; in others, the lean is perhaps more towards exhibitionism and the thrill / risk of performing sexual acts in public.
Sex is at best a difficult topic for discussions, as reactions to it tend to be far more subjective and perhaps shaped by preconceptions. As such, I’ll leave it to readers to visit Shameless to form their own impressions.
- DiXmiX Gallery (Bay Port, rated: Moderate)