Critics’ Picks

Lara Nasser, Tic, 2018, acrylic and oil on panel, 8 x 10".

Lara Nasser, Tic, 2018, acrylic and oil on panel, 8 x 10".

New York

Lara Nasser

Meredith Rosen Gallery
11 East 80th Street G-1
July 20–August 25, 2018

The big three Abrahamic religions—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—don’t allow much in the way of humor. Lara Nasser’s exhibition “Half Ass” shrugs off the restriction. Her clumsy, kinky, and tablet-size paintings, with laconic titles such as Tic and Lump (all works 2018), commingle religious figures and cum shots from homemade Muslim porn films, among other things. The artist’s frequently dead-eyed subjects feel like the kinds of holy folk certain people find in sundry foodstuffs: the Virgin Mary in a potato chip, for instance, or Christ’s visage on toast. Nasser extracts the silly from the sacred, underlining that reverence is never too far off from ridiculousness. In the sculpture House Ruin, the artist depicts herself as Jesus, and in the interactive video installation EDBTZ, or Uncausing the Cause, she is a Zoltar-like clairvoyant. In this piece, “Who?” and “What?” are printed on tacky red buttons for visitors to push—as if they were props out of a game-show nightmare. Of course, Nasser’s fortune-teller responds with intentionally fruitless and grammatically incorrect messages—useless for anyone’s future.

There’s also a shrine to the scrotum called Scratch and Sniff—it has a club-kid fashion vibe—featuring a fishnet stocking with a painting of the Son of God trapped inside. A brass disc strains the bottom of the stocking, making it look like a set of balls. Indeed, “Half Ass” scrambles the pecking order of power: Nasser makes sure that female sex workers mingle with sibyls while she buddies up with men of authority to troll the patriarchy. The artist makes orthodoxy and unsavoriness oddly comfortable bedfellows.