new-york

Boyd Webb

Sonnabend Gallery

Boyd Webb’s British humor (which characteristically drew few laughs from American viewers) combines Monty Python silliness and staginess with neo-Realist postwar street settings, neo-Ovidian metamorphoses and Olympian perspectives, and the loony serenity of diaper and baby-food commercials. The operative metaphor for all of this seems to be something like “big mother is watching.” In his Cibachromes and in his blackly comedic film, Scenes and Songs from Boyd Webb, 1984, almost everyone is a mother or overtly maternal. Fertility icons obviously abound: mother’s milk in the form of dairy products saturates the film. In one photograph, Mum, in a printed housedress, takes over Atlas’ job, looking a little dubious and perhaps only momentarily successful under her planetary burden. We can assume this is Mum because there are numerous children in the photographs and in the film, and because at

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