Sunday, June 16, 2013

ALLIE POHL at Galleri Urbane

Carytid series chrome 19.5 x 9 x 12 in per unit

A repost from my article in

My first impression of Allie Pohl's work came from an earlier show at Galleri Urbane. The piece had the same reflective qualities as Jeff Koons' balloon dog sculptures. I really couldn't get past the similarities, and unfortunately I completely dismissed her work as just another Koonian knock off.

But clearly I was taking her work out of context. Instead of a rehash of a vapid second generation Pop art object that is all about kitsch, Allie Pohl actually contains some quality content. I know this now, because of her solo show at Galleri Urbane titled, Ideal Woman. Her installation drives her point home with representations of torso after torso placed up high like trophies and then each one is tagged with exotic eastern characters. I say exotic, because this form of text isn’t seen in everyday life. Similarly there was a trend to get tattoos of English words in China.

She attempts to connect with this Other, without seriously making the effort. It is easier to idealize and generalize the Other which Pohl sums up in her reductionist objects. As a viewer, you are gazing at the torso, idealizing the woman and at the same time this “Woman” has a tattoo which idealizes another culture. On some works, Pohl also sensationalizes her sculptures through adding jeweled patches to draw your eye to the crotch. Of course these are modeled off of doll crotches, so there is nothing really there to draw you in other than your imagination. Her glowing neon torsos, and her stacked sculpture of ideally measured women’s hips further drive her point home. The stacked body parts bring this cultural ideal to the level of absurdity. I can imagine Pohl was inspired by cheerleader routines.

I did however, blush a bit when I walked around a corner and saw underwear and knees sitting on what turned out to be toilets. Nothing explicit is in these images, just a lady using the toilet. For my own personal experience, I thought this confronted the issue of the Other the best in the whole show. I am the male viewing a woman using the restroom, but Pohl seems to point out that there really isn’t anything exotic about going potty. I’m sure a woman can look at the work and completely relate to the experience. Their gaze is a shared experience that is less about this Otherness and more about their own personal experiences.

The issues of the body and the idealization of women have been strong throughout Feminist art. But Allie Pohl’s take is a more slick and finished in design, much like the toys sold to children. These are not darkly introspective like Christi Nielsen’s work or purposely ugly like Cindy Sherman’s recent work. No, Pohl is embracing the trends and then playing and having fun with them. Kate Carr has a solo show in the next gallery. Her work is extremely well crafted and worth seeing. The minimalist works of Kate Carr and popish images of Allie Pohl are up through June 1st at Galleri Urbane Dallas.

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