Critics’ Picks

Ana Laura Aláez, Tigras y felinas (Tigresses and Felines), 1995, metal and textiles, dimensions variable.

Ana Laura Aláez, Tigras y felinas (Tigresses and Felines), 1995, metal and textiles, dimensions variable.

Madrid

Ana Laura Aláez

Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M)
Avda. Constitución, 23
November 7, 2019–January 26, 2020

By no means chronologically rigorous, this retrospective skips entire periods and sutures together assorted bodies of work. But its heterodoxy is useful to understanding the artistic obsessions of Ana Laura Aláez, as well as the puckish tensions between her “emotional architecture” and the New Basque sculpture. See, for instance, Culito (Bottom, 1996–2008), a smooth iron butt plugged with a cork. Tigras y felinas (Tigresses and Felines, 1995) consists of two shamanic columns of suspended skirts, undergarments, and kilts that get at Alaéz’s interest in how fashion shapes identity through concealment and display. The work is among many from the 1990s that address women’s representation. Others include Fotomatón N.Y. (Photo Booth N.Y., 1992) and Shaving, 1997, a black-and-white photograph of the artist trimming her pubic hair with an electric razor. Nightlife as an arena of experimentation and liberating performativity is another of her output’s great themes. Created in 2009, Todos los conciertos, todas las noches, todo vacío (All Concerts, Every Night, All Empty)—the installation for which this exhibition is named—is a pointy aluminum structure encircled by band T-shirts. In the series “Cabeza-Espiral-Agujero-Puño-Esperma-Nudo” (Head-Spiral-Hole-Fist-Sperm-Knot, 2009), twisty black phallic forms jut from leather jackets hung side by side in quasi-cruciform arrangements. Like much on display here, the sculptures seem to wield both a jagged political edge and a strange, screwed-up glamour.

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.