Creeping Toward The Light at Julius Caesar – Exhibition Review

Published in NewCity Art, March 2015.

header image: installation view, “Creeping Towards The Light”

Described as a “collaboration” between organizer and artist, rather than a straightforward comparison, “Creeping Toward The Light” at Julius Caesar features artist Stevie Hanley alongside one of JC’s directorial personalities, Roland Miller. The small exhibition space, dominated by Hanley’s large, banner-like assemblies, has the effect of a curious, colorful maze.

The floor is chrome throughout, treated with a foil wrapping. Miller has installed several slightly larger-than-life-sized prints of women cut out and affixed directly to the wall. Their color and visual texture is glitched, implying inversions, blow-outs and missing data. Brilliance and lurid aesthetic moments become occlusions—obnoxious, pink rhinestones are glued to the picture glass floated just a hair above a collage by Miller, covering a serial repetition of sexual penetrations. Glints that blind, rather than illuminate. That these explicit moments are not totally concealed gives way to that naughty impulse to peak around the glittery censor.

Hanley’s banners are collaged sculptures, constituted by snipped and layered works on paper, hair clips and sundry baubles. Careful, brightly colored pencil drawings of spiders and Fabergé eggs (among other motifs) recall tidier works on paper that Hanley exhibited last spring. They are pitched between updated iterations of ithyphallic stake-forms. The bases of these “flagpoles,” apparently cast from Bundt cake pans of various dimensions and embellishment, are at once innocuous supports and evocative, puckered starbursts interrupted by the insertion of suggestive rods. However subdued and pastel, Hanley’s is a no less seductive brand of anality.

Hanley’s structures work to do a lot at once: planes of soft pink washes, marbled tableaus and brilliant orange and turquoise stains vibrate between notepads and textiles—patterned decoratively or dotted with texts. Both sides of a given banner are titled individually, which places special attention on the decorated frame and support structure.

“Creeping Toward The Light” is pervaded by a shared sense of sensuous breaks—a play at layering and lapsing. As a collaboration that challenges the traditional precepts of the group show, Miller and Hanley have found an erotic incongruity, locating moments of exciting overlap in sexual difference.