Julia Kidd

Genovese Gallery

Julia Kidd groups together 18 works from the past five years for a thought-provoking installation entitled “Home Is Where Your House Is.” Kidd explores the fragility of American consumerist myths in these multimedia meditations on house and home. Home Is Where Your House Is III, 1989, features a photograph, printed on wallpaper, of a front garden and trees leveled by a hurricane. Superimposed on this disaster photograph are five cartoon silhouettes of a young boy learning to walk on stilts. Metaphorically, the collision of these particular images suggests the fragility of the home, whose security can at any moment be disrupted or destroyed. For The Home of Shirley Jones, 1988, Kidd has taken a tacky postcard image of a large Hollywood house, enlarged it and mounted it on Masonite. A black and white photograph of actress Shirley Jones is inset and bordered by film sprockets. The work’s real punch, however, lies in Kidd’s addition of a painted relief, showing a cartoon image of a weeping female creature above a caption reading, “I Hate My Clothes.” This obscure and idiosyncratic figure seems to bewail her imperfections upon comparison with the pristine perfection of the former star of The Partridge Family. In this piece, Kidd appears to condemn the fabricated lives of Hollywood “dream women.”

Kidd offers an unusual take on families and bonding in Brothers, Family Album, 1985–87. She combines a silverprint image of Chang and Eng, the original Siamese twins, with three diagrammatic paintings showing how to knit. The brothers are seen in a vintage photograph, dressed formally, seated and embracing, yet revealing the exposed area of flesh where their organs merged. By grouping this image with the three bright orange-and-gray painted reproductions from a knitting manual, Kidd underscores the intricate bondings not only of the Siamese twins, but of all members of a family unit. The Siamese twins are emblems of the problems of maintaining separate identities within the immediate family. Kidd’s works are visually compelling and conceptually disturbing. Her feminist recontextualizations of the folklore surrounding the happy home expose the problems implicit in the media-hyped illusions of blissful domesticity.

Francine A. Koslow