los-angeles

Kiki Smith

Lannan Foundation, Shoshana Wayne Gallery

Kiki Smith’s sculptures and installations focus on the body, specifically what “civilized” society has proscribed as taboo: sex, death, disease, and their various excretions. Given the hegemony of the far right in the ongoing struggles for abortion rights and the financing of AIDS research, it is not surprising that many artists have made the body their current cause célèbre. However, with trendy post-Conceptualists citing Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Georges Bataille (and, by extension, the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch) as their theoretical gurus, it’s important to remember that this issue is hardly new. Mikhail Bakhtin’s studies of the carnivalesque in Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, 1532, for example, underlined the subversive nature of “grotesque realism” in challenging the officially sanctioned Christian eschatology of the late Middle Ages. Thus a

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