Deborah Samuel

Corkin Gallery

The photographs in Deborah Samuel’s show “Venus Passage” bear witness to ritual violence: she paints her models in thick black strokes that evoke bodily alterations ranging from decorative scarification to sex change. Some of the “surgery” has been drastic, as though to introduce some missing organs or otherwise to mediate between the unprotected body and the cruel environment in which it must function. A rope of stitches up a male back suggests either the removal or the implantation of a spine—though the latter seems more likely, since for Samuel masculinity is severely in crisis: her male bodies are not simply decorated but radically altered. Autobody, 1992, presents a frontal view of a male torso, the genitals hidden from sight, with black stitchlike tucks below the belly and breasts that suggest the subject of the photograph has had a sex change or that his sexuality has been excised

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