Sunday, 23 September 2012
Charles Ray - Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley...
Charles Ray - Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley…, 1992. Eight painted cast fiberglass mannequins with wigs
6 x 15 x 15 ft. (1.8 x 4.6 x 4.6 m)
Oh! Charley Charley Charley by Charles Ray. I would think this is gross. But, it is sort of cool that it’s the same person- the artist, in fact- who is pleasing himself. He is taking care of every aspect of his own human need. Others are not necessary. Sort of stand alone, “I can take you all” sort of mindset, presented sexually. I think.
Oh, Charley, Charley, Charley! points toward the possibility that beneath our conceptualization of sexuality there lies neither heterosexual identity nor homosexual identity, but something else beyond that dichotomy. After all, Ray himself, as stated above, plays with the likelihood that the viewer will misunderstand his intent. The misinterpretation of artistic intent is in turn based upon a faulty apprehension of “normal behavior.” Ray leads us upon a zany obsessive-compulsive chase. Like a cat in its game of mistaken identity, he is chasing his own tail while we watch and wonder. Does he know what he is doing? His seeming obsessive-compulsive narcissism obfuscates the normative sexual concerns we, as viewers, bring to his sculpture.
What about psychological content? While making a piece like Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley . . .you’re not blind to the fact that it’s going to have at least a profoundly unnerving effect on some people.
But the process by which Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley . . . actually came about was much less psychological than you think, y’know? I think of it more as a flat and lonely piece rather than erotically charged. It’s really flat, nothing’s revealed; I’m masturbating. You don’t know what my preferences are. You don’t know what I’m thinking of. At first it looks as if I’m really vulnerable — this has been carried through lots of work, even back in the early pieces where I used my body, like the Shelf piece. You walk into the room and I look really vulnerable. But I’m not. It’s so set off that nothing of me becomes revealed. In Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley . . . there’s nothing revealed about me. You don’t know me any better. You know, I make it, it’s a big sex orgy, and then you see it. You see nothing. Family Romance and Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley . . ., to me, are similar problems: How, in this day and age, do you make a group figurative sculpture? Art is this dialectic between the abstraction and the image. I’m interested in it working as a sculpture, in how the forms look put together. I think it had all the stuff under the surface because it was a good sculpture. But I didn’t build this around it to bring these things out — I would have rejected and not finished it if it didn’t have those, but I think it’s part of the process. Time is part of the problem — to make a real formal baroque sculpture in 1998. That’s what I wanted to do. It’s fuckin’ hard.