Ideological Activists

Take a tour through Hardcore's sewer of softcore dementia

A salty digital photograph by Antuan depicts a cobalt-eyed bimbo whose idea of a makeover is coating her face in a juicy layer of salmon lox. The woman is a dead ringer for one of the Cenobites in the 1987 horror flick Hellraiser, sporting dozens of hooks that bristle menacingly from her unsightly fishy cowl. One prays Antuan's spread is a commentary on surgical addiction rather than a glimpse into a funky personal fetish involving bagels and cream cheese.

Exhibited jestingly in the gallery's bathrooms, Deborah Castillo's digital parodies of sex ads commonly found in the back of porn magazines provide some of the show's most tickling works. Horny Latin American Cleaner depicts the bare-breasted artist wearing a latex French maid's outfit while polishing a table and stretching her gums as wide as a worked-over inflatable doll. Another ad touting a naughty nurse's services features a scantily clad Castillo in the role of a floozy Florence Nightingale and waving a plastic syringe the length of a fire extinguisher. She urges those in need of an enema to "Call me now. I'll blow your mind."

In the Project Room, Nina Dotti's installation, The Wedding Cake ... The Bride as Is, seeks to underscore the plight of gays and lesbians wishing to marry, and is awkwardly infantile in nature. A large sculpture of a five-layer wedding cake features a gay and lesbian Ken and Barbie doll-scale bride and groom, climbing the colorful confection to join their better halves waiting atop the meringue-frosted summit of nuptial bliss.

Nelson Garrido's Santo Niño de Atocha
Nelson Garrido's Santo Niño de Atocha
Antuan's digital photo: A commentary on surgical addiction or a fetish with lox?
Antuan's digital photo: A commentary on surgical addiction or a fetish with lox?

Several Plexiglas boxes, which have the feel of dollhouse dioramas, display what the artist calls 21st-century families. One piece depicts a wife and husband, who has undergone transsexual surgery so he can have a lesbian relationship with her, and their children playing with toys, though the scene seems staged by an eight-year-old.

During the opening, Dotti gave a performance in which she dressed as a bride and married spectators, to whom she gave chintzy rings as if sealing the ceremony in a theatrical spoof of the institution.

Working with such meaty concepts, the artist could have taken a toothier bite into the subject matter rather than settle for frivolous dress rehearsals and playful toy chest arrangements.

Outside the gallery and on an interior wall, Sylvia Riquezes has created a sprawling installation titled The Blob Is Back in Wynwood, which might be a witty stab at runaway gentrification. The piece is named for the cheesy B-movie classic that provided Steve McQueen with his star turn. The sci-fi flick's Blob was an oozy bit of meteor gunk that swallowed everything in sight while growing exponentially and terrorizing a sleepy hamlet. Like an insidious cancer devouring the building, this hokey Blob creeps, crawls, and consumes everything, mimicking the movie's catchy tagline. Riquezes's "urban intervention," as she refers to her precious piece, which consists of rope netting and inflated balls painted red, seems a fitting metaphor for rapacious developers, considering that although the movie's teenage protagonists tried to alert others to the greedy monster's presence, nobody paid attention until it was too late.

The curator could stand to learn a lesson from the Blob and fully digest the razor-edged work Sans was slinging in his skull-cracking Paris show.

I must give Hardcore a larder full of credit for its ambitious goals and willingness to get down and dirty, but this gut-cramping menu generously heaped with portions of hardcore lite left me hankering for a gristly T-bone served on the raw side.

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