February 27 – March 27, 1993
In her second one-person show at Metro Pictures, Marlene McCarty exhibits large untitled paintings, each containing a single word or phrase heat-transferred (using an iron) onto raw canvas. Some of the paintings contain single words such as Slash or Snatch in a highly stylized typeface, exaggerated and extended to such a degree it becomes a parody of modernist design and geometric abstraction. In a second group of paintings, a phrase such as I'll give you the biggest dick you've ever had runs vertically down the center of the work creating a stripe alluding to the patriarchal arena of formalist painting. Another group of works includes flaming lettering popularized on custom cars and tattoos to present phrases such as You're my slut bottom suck, which could be a line from a heavy metal song or a cartoon in Hustler.
Though her subject matter is language, McCarty chooses to leave these works untitled. What is important is both the actual word or phrase used, and who is using it. The speaker is both the bad boy with his idiomatic toilet jokes who abuses the sexual identity of the female, and the woman artist who adopts this sadomasochistic vocabulary and exhibits it in an art gallery. McCarty is not interested in the linguistic investigations of earlier conceptual art but rather in throwing these violent "misogynisms" into the art discourse. Obscene language no longer functions as a designation of the abused but as an aggressive call, a legitimate sign of the time that has been appropriated by a feminist voice who does not intend to remain a marginalized victim.
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