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Alix Pearlstein, Harem ROOM–1 (detail), 2016. Installation view. Photo: Mario Gallucci.

Alix Pearlstein

Upfor

Alix Pearlstein, Harem ROOM–1 (detail), 2016. Installation view. Photo: Mario Gallucci.

In these exceedingly vulgar times, feminists have been forced to develop an array of responses to daily onslaughts of abuse, some blunt, some subtle. Alix Pearlstein’s recent show at Upfor offered a particularly sophisticated take on contemporary power dynamics, in the form of an installation ringing with implacable ontological implications about gender and society that will, sadly, probably still be relevant a hundred years from now.

The show centered on a piece called Harem ROOM-1, 2016, a collection of toy kittens arranged on the gallery floor in various groupings. Over here, a trio; over there, a quartet; over here, a singlet, adding up to a complicated, deeply fissured congregation. All the kittens on display were identical in shape and equally expressive of industrial-grade cuteness—and yet, depending on their placement, their emotive charges waxed and waned. Implicitly,

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