Critics’ Picks

Dutes Miller, Drummer, 2012, mixed media painting on magazine pages, each 22 1/2 x 16 1/2".


Dutes Miller

Western Exhibitions
1709 W Chicago Second Floor
December 14 - January 28

Dutes Miller’s queer utopia is a romp through Adam and Steve’s Garden of Eden. “In the Garden” presents the gallery-as-landscape peppered with clusters of oddly sexualized finger-fungi outgrowths harvesting on patches of fake grass, blotched-out images of vintage gay porn models, and BDSM hooks for hanging bodies. Miller uses craft-oriented materials such as pink glitter, neon string, and liquid white chocolate to transform deviant sexualized objects into decorative, desexualized elements of a new queer aesthetic that indulges in visual and oral pleasures. His work comments on the superficial nature of bodies and fetish objects in gay male culture by pleasurably turning them into exactly that.

In Drummer (all works 2012), Miller appropriates an image from the underground, now-defunct vintage gay porn magazine of the same name that showcased a macho masculinity that has since become a staple of gay bear culture. He covers the man’s muscular body with white paint, selectively leaving dark—and thus highlighting—the two bulging black phalluses that the man grips like gun barrels in his muscular hands. These become the man’s only loaded weapons in a washed out representation of what was once a hypersexualized and commoditized body. Low Hanging Fruit is a cluster of glitter-covered silicon condoms filled to the point of simulated erection. Tied together with a yellow string, they dangle in front of a stone bench where viewers are invited to lounge and indulge in the fantasies that the phalluses conjure. An ode to the Hindu deity Shiva, Lingam with Violet Outcropping, a gyrating three-bowl-tall fountain from which semenlike melted white chocolate continually flows, resides in front of the fruit. The fountain and Miller’s call to the deity become a part of his self-invented queer spirituality. In 3 into 1, a neon pink string hangs across two BDSM bondage hooks, balancing a cluster of three condoms by their synthetic heads that are anchored on the other side by two giant yellow balls. Neon strings dangling inside the condoms mimic the veins of an erect penis. The silicon casts hang from large BDSM hooks, which are taken out of their fetish-driven sexual subculture, becoming decorative and ornamental.