BY PATRICE ELIZABETH GRELL YURSIK
Back in 1993, Queen Latifah delivered a powerful message to the hip-hop community. "You gotta let him know/You ain't a bitch or a ho," she commanded in her hit song "U.N.I.T.Y." More than a decade later, Latifah has turned Cover Girl/actress, and the females who dominate the rap game perpetuate misogynistic images. Pimp and ho culture is everywhere, from the videos on MTV and BET, to magazines that give detailed lessons about how to please men in bed, to teenage hoochie clothing stores cramming the malls. Theater artist Teo Castellanos is skewering this sexualized culture with his newest D-Projects presentation, Glossy Page Pimps. His inspiration came from The Source and Vibe, the pages of which are saturated with pseudopornographic images. Castellanos subscribed for a decade. "Eventually I cancelled my subscriptions, because I don't want my daughter to see those images, and I don't want her to aspire to look, be, or behave like the women in those magazines," he explains. For Glossy Page Pimps, Castellanos is working with female DJ Snowhite, and Raquel Almazan, a feminist performance artist who thinks women rappers have become their own pimps. "I filled my head with Foxy Brown and Trina and Missy and Lil' Kim, who to me is the greatest, most twisted symbol of feminism in our time," she says. These collaborators will invert traditional male/female roles and examine the culture from a unique gender perspective. Watch a reading of the play tonight at 8:00 at the Light Box Studio, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Admission is free. Call 786-271-2076, or visit www.miamilightproject.com.
Me So Happy!
Teresa Diehl's installation "The Return of Pleasure" invites a romp across the sandbox of memory, engulfing the spectator in an interactive playground of video, sound, and photography evocative of childhood ritual. Diehl deftly hot-buttons our prepubescent longing for happiness and pleasure, reminding us of an age when acts like sucking, laughing, caressing our pets, and making the A-list at every party innocently fulfilled the desire for sensual gratification. Her show, opening tonight at 7:00 at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery (3550 N. Miami Ave., Miami), promises to transport one far from the joy-dulling realities of a ruinous rat race and back to a time when clouds were animal-shaped and the world was our lollipop. Call 305-573-2700, or visit www.bernicesteinbaumgallery.com. -- Carlos Suarez De Jesus
That squirrel is just sleeping
At times hallucinatory, Miami can seem a place where the gods of the multiculti diaspora play head games with us mortals and where the boldest reflections of our city are often glimpsed in the funhouse mirrors of the mind. Natch, a fluent foursome of foreign-born artists has cracked open a door to navigating the Surreal Orange with conceptual flair, unfurling the witty "Realidades Alteradas/Altered Realities" tonight at 7:00 at ArtCenter/South Florida (800 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach). Nestor Arenas reanimates roadkill via fabulously perverse photographs in which a pancaked squirrel finds itself in the gun sights of toy soldiers. Patricio Cuello Dumpster-dives for packing tubes to erect a defoliated tree. Photographer Gory depicts snippets of a Wonder Bread society where horses, bicycles, and knives loom large on the landscape. Ruben Torres-Llorca riffs satirically about common household objects alluding to the American dream -- not! Call 305-538-7887, or visit www.artcentersf.org. -- Carlos Suarez De Jesus
From Jerusalem to Joints
Tracey Hagen gets the shot
A naked woman shares a toke with a prim businessman. A Bedouin woman in the Sinai desert buries her face in her hands. A cat slinks past a glass of wine. Tracey Hagen juxtaposes the sex, drugs, and wealth of the West with the barren simplicity of the East in the first large-scale exhibition of her work, "From West to East." Hagen's exhibit features more than 22 metalized-printed black-and-white photographs. The unique process -- pigmented archival inks printed on aluminum -- "gives a shimmery effect," she says. "It really brings life to the photographs." Hagen loves "observing people, watching life," and savoring those moments with her camera. "I would love to be a photojournalist and get paid to travel." Us too. The opening reception is tonight from 6:00 to 10:00 at the Newton Building, 3901 NE Second Ave., Miami. Call 305-535-6128, or visit www.traceyhagen.com. --Lyssa Oberkreser
Self-Love and Loathing
Don't be surprised if you have trouble peeling from your skull Three Dog Night's lyric "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever know" after experiencing the work of José Pacheco. His show "Void & Sights," opening tonight at 7:00 at Damien B. Contemporary Art Center (282 NW 36th St., Miami), features color photographs and delicate wire environments in which solitary Lilliputian figures oscillate with a pitch of dislocation and nihilistic sentimentality. "I explore issues of solitude and loneliness, and hope people encounter my images as witnesses of sadness and desolation," Pacheco muses. "Ideally they'll see the work and reflect upon who they are and their place in a global community." Call 305-573-4949, or visit www.damienb.com. -- Carlos Suarez De Jesus