Critics’ Picks

Becky Yee, Untitled #3, 2008, digital print, 20 x 16".

New York

Becky Yee

hpgrp gallery
32-36 Little West 12 Street 2nd Floor
February 11–March 15

A middle-aged computer engineer sits glued to his monitor, ignoring the lingerie-clad seductress behind him, but she’ll never storm out of the room in a huff. Next, he might kiss and caress her; alternatively, he might dismantle her and return her to a shelf. In “More than a Woman,” photographer Becky Yee chronicles this anonymous man and his extensive collection of “Dutch wives,” or life-size sex dolls, which range from cheap vinyl inflatables to customized silicone models. The exhibition includes six large-scale prints. Each successive image elucidates the complex interaction of man and surrogate; one prominently features the wedding ring that honors his emotional commitment to them, while another depicts him in bed with a ridiculously buxom, blank-faced brunette. An unexpected tenderness emerges; the juxtaposition of real and synthetic flesh proposes that intimacy is a condition of the free mind, predicated on trust and dependability. The bête noire on display is not sexual perversion, but fear. To negate the possibility of rejection, Yee’s subject is willing to sacrifice arguably the most crucial aspect of his humanity—social improvisation. In two clusters of smaller images, the artist develops another aspect of this fraught relationship, showcasing aspects of the dolls’ storage. She pictures the disassembled bodies resting in individualized compartments, along with their neat closet and efficiently stacked drawers brimming with costumes. A row of heads perched atop a flowered quilt, among patterned pillows and grinning stuffed animals, brings grotesque materialism into clear focus—a disturbing portrait of consumerist compulsions.