In this exhibition, curator Srdjan Loncar subtly fills the gallery with flags, but not exactly the types readily imagined. Human figures serve as emblems of, simultaneously, existence and ideologies. Deploying simple transformations—reduction, concealment, exposure—artists Rajko Radovanovic, Yevgeniy Ampleyev, Mayumi Hamanaka, and Taro Hattori traverse the loaded territories of human rights, power, propaganda, and perversion.
New Altars of the Temple of Happiness #57, 2008, by Radovanovic, a Croatian artist, dominates the gallery. The left-hand rectangular panel of the looming triptych presents an enlarged black-and-white photograph of the Yugoslav People’s Army, its members’ faces masked out with red paint and black crosses. On the right, the sentence A PRECONDITION TO DOING VIOLENCE TO ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE IS TO MAKE THEM LESS THAN HUMAN sits boldly against a backdrop of propagandistic newspaper columns. In this context, the concealed faces leave the figures both individuated and iconic. An all-black panel serves as the restless void between these two highly provocative images.
Issues of power and racial stereotypes are likewise explored by the collaborative duo Hamanaka and Hattori, who present eight life-size prints of nude Japanese men from their series “Japanese Male Surrender,” 2003–. The figures, printed on white backgrounds that are hung like flags in a near circle in the gallery, submit in their stance and nudity yet retain one element of control through their confrontational stares. Ukranian artist Ampleyev also sardonically plays up notions of gender while exploring the mutability and perversion of the human form in the cartoonish style of Jim Nutt. The artists in “The Great White” play with notions of perception, transforming many of the exhibited works into ensigns of our humanity—and the forces that challenge that ideal.