Critics’ Picks

Hanne Lippard, Cunt, 2018, draped silk-curtains, dimensions variable.

Hanne Lippard, Cunt, 2018, draped silk-curtains, dimensions variable.


“Concetto spaziale”

Johan von Hahn 8 / Garibaldi 1
July 11–September 28, 2019

This three-artist exhibition tackles one of the most accessible but, simultaneously, most elusive and insufficiently understood phenomena in Western society: the human vagina. The show’s title—“Concetto spaziale”—repurposes the nomenclature Lucio Fontana used for his slashed canvases, drawing a direct line from the Italian master to Edona Vatoci’s installation Plan B, 2015–19, a shiny, cotton-candy-colored silk cube, two meters tall with a narrow slit on one side. Entrance requires not only some physical maneuvering on the part of the visitor, but also consent, by way of a pre-signed mutual nondisclosure agreement. Meanwhile, Hanne Lippard’s bluntly titled Cunts, 2018, festoons the entry wall with a cascade of cerise silk, scrunched up in labial folds. Here penetration is out of the question, for there is nothing behind the curtain.

But, then again, if you go straight for the flashy stuff, you’re probably doing it wrong anyway. Lingering around the exhibition’s edges are two alluring little drawings in pencil, chalk, and crayon by the octogenarian Viennese artist Heinz Frank. For the time being (EINSTWEILEN), 1979, presents a vagina pierced by a goofy-looking gray phallus, whose bulbous nose and beady eyes suggest a cryogenically frozen Beaker, the hapless lab-assistant Muppet. More abstract—though no less absurd—is the plucky anus staring out from Nothing, is that link from the inside hole into the outside hole, human. (NICHTS, IST JEN VERBINDUNG VOM INNENLOCH INS AUSSENLOCH, MENSCH.), 1983. Frank’s accompanying sculpture, True vagina (WAHRVAGINA), 1968, resembles a miniature smokestack belching out a plume of gray smoke, whose question-mark curve conjures the contours of a vulva. It takes a certain level of daring to address this topic so head-on, and yet, at the end, one is left in frustrated titillation, engaged but not satisfied.