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Dutes Miller

Western Exhibitions
1709 W Chicago, Second Floor
June 12, 2009–August 1, 2009

Dutes Miller, “Untitled Collages,” 2009, magazine collages, 73 x 68" overall. Installation view.

It is tempting to evoke a parallel between the shameless humor and political outlandishness of Sasha Baron Cohen’s latest film, Brüno, and Dutes Miller’s “The Ecstacyist,” an exhibition comprising an uncountable number of penises and colorful dangling testicles. Yet while Baron Cohen’s Brüno is make-believe, a front for farce, Miller’s immersion in the subjects of male genitalia and gay desire is a genuinely idiosyncratic investigation. The strongest work in the show doesn’t stray far from the pornographic imagery that serves as its source. Displayed in a large grid, “Untitled Collages,” 2009, offers thirty-six gay-magazine pinups that are simply altered by the addition of other photographs. By “gilding the lily,” Miller animates the figures, making the titillating poses more dynamic without compromising the compositions of the original reproductions. A very different type of collage is enacted in his Ass Mandalas, 2009, where he cuts out and then pieces together variously shaped fleshy muscles, resulting in small, tenuous biomorphic abstractions that are flimsily attached to the wall. Miller is at his best when personal obsession drives the work and gives it shape; his experiments in casting testicles and engorged condoms are not convincing as ornament or as sculpture. However Miller’s mixed-media collages on paper incorporating penis figures striking silly states of repose and activity are enjoyable vignettes, demonstrating nimble material interplay.

Michelle Grabner