Transplanting the gritty rat-race sizzle of New York to Gstaad’s cool alpine repose, Sweat is a summer exhibition that takes perspiration as its theme. Translating physical phenomenon into aesthetic spectacle, these works ooze sex appeal: within their heights of vogue style and high culture fetish it’s the base instinct to bodily secretion that’s the object of true desire. Here sweat is more than an agent provocateur, it’s a hallmark of heroicism, hard graft, and conquest: a metaphor for the artistic process itself, of its traumas, anxieties and triumphs.
Sweat expands from ideas within Minter’s own practice: her high gloss photos of lewdly drenched bodies exaggerate fashion to porn, as flesh’s fixation is licentiously adorned by beads, droplets, and rivers, like abject jewels of libido secretion. Embellished to outlandishly erotic proportions, her juicy glamour shots become mesmerising abstractions, complicating image obsession to a psychological dimension between surface and its evaporating transience; a sensation redoubled in Curry’s ephemeral prints of condensation’s ever fading dissolve. It’s sweat that’s identified as the Pavlovian trigger to lusty passion and forbidden fancy, barbarian instinct cum advertising’s manipulator, the mixed messaging of rapture and the grotesque: as seen in Sherman’s ice lolly
diva, and portraits by Pierson, Melgaard, and McGinley, sudor laden in guilty pleasures.
Sweat is both essence and origin of commodity itself, in Smith’s bijoux repackaging of the wholesale goods of corporeal expulsion; her spa-clinical bottles allure with the promise of immortality’s secrets via biological waste. Similarly Rottenberg’s sweatshop videos humorously conceive production as labour’s by-product discharge; while Hundley’s t-shirts emblazoned with deodorant commercial slogans allude to the schism between effort input and veneer charisma. For success at all costs is the name of this game, its obstacles, trials, and tribulations: as Gilmore’s painful and clammy performance so aptly illustrates the travails of trying to ‘break through’. Art’s the stuff of strife, raw exertion, venture, toil and achievement, as exemplified in Barney’s feats of physical negotiation. Like Pfeiffer’s athlete’s framed at the pinnacle of competition, the beauty of these works is in their exceptional grace: capturing rare consummate moments with natural flourish, raw, unadulterated, and sweaty, the one thing that defines Sweat as an exhibition is that these artists make perfection look effortless.
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