New York-based artist Alix Pearlstein’s solo exhibition of video and installation works examines the complex interplay of objectification, desire, individuality and social hierarchies, by pairing sculptural installation Harem ROOM-1 (2016) with her video Two Women (2000).
The installation consists of an arrangement of feline, figurative objects on the gallery floor. Their calculated staging employs gaze and sight lines to foreground status through social groupings, as well as relationships, affinities and affections. “Harem" in this context refers to a multiplicity of ideas: most obviously, a group of females perceived as centering around a particular male, and attendant associations; but also the lesser-known definition of a collection of like, fetishized objects.
The video shows a man pacing against a blank background while eyeing a magazine cutout of a nude woman dangling in the foreground. Two women’s voices are audible: one, a voiceover of coaxing suggestions, the other responsive moans and sighs. Desire as portrayed by the media, replete with tensions between “real” and “fake”, play out for the male performer – subject matter Pearlstein has grappled with for decades.
Alix Pearlstein (b. 1962 in New York, NY) is particularly known for her work in video, performance and installation. Widely exhibited domestically and internationally, solo exhibitions of note include deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA; Ballroom Marfa, TX; On Stellar Rays, New York, NY; Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, GA; The Kitchen, New York, NY; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL. She is a recipient of the FCA Grants to Artists Award, is on the faculty of the SVA MFA program and serves on the Board of Governors of the Skowhegan School.