New York

Marie-Jo Lafontaine

Jack Shainman Gallery | West 20th Street

Marie-Jo Lafontaine’s work has been criticized for its seeming glorification of power and aggression as expressed through the physicality of the male body. Recent video installations have focused on the spectacles of boxing, bullfighting, and weightlifting. The work shown here, Victoria, 1988, makes reference to the tango; it depicts a mortal battle between two men, fought hand to hand and eye to glistening eye. Not safely didactic or even obviously subversive, Victoria plays on our romantic fascination with the primitive and elemental; it reduces existential conflict to the level of brute strength. This romanticization comes dangerously close to drawing a parallel between physical power and beauty/truth. But behind the work’s stentorian soundtrack, behind the ruggedly handsome, unshaven faces and fierce expressions of the male actors, behind their sweat and force, is a distinctly distanced

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