los-angeles

Mia Westerlund Roosen

Shoshana Wayne Gallery

It was difficult to read Mia Westerlund Roosen’s 18-ton earth sculpture Madam Mao, 1995, as anything but giant genitalia. In previous works, Roosen used undulating concrete to suggest human forms, but, in Madam Mao modest innuendo finally surrendered to outright literalism. The huge dirt vagina dominated a large gallery space and filled the room with its fertile odor, the mound rising from the floor into a tapered peak. Running down the center was a small canyon, lined with sinuous slabs of pink, curved concrete. This labial, fluted furrow greeted viewers at eye level, offering them an unobstructed view into the thirty-footlong sculpture.

Like much indoor earthwork, this piece presented a massive amount of soil that was tidy and well-behaved. Madam Mao was carefully groomed. Her neat perimeter was perfectly swept. No rogue smudges sullied the clean white room. She was moist and the mound

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