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VOLUME 01: MAY 2001

Nancy Davidson
by Artsy Staff

Celebrating strength in T & A, Nancy Davidson's gigantic orb, acorn and egg shaped sculptures at Robert Miller Gallery explore the humorous side of feminine eroticism. The "dressed up" U.S. weather balloons simultaneously evoke the female form while poking fun at standards promoted by fashion and the media.

Braided ropes and twine push cleavage into smooth latex balloon surfaces suggesting breasts, buttocks, female reproduction - particularly pregnancy, and our half of conception - the ovum. Forms are "clothed" in brightly colored panties, halters, skirts, corsets, mesh crochet, fish net, ruffles and lace. More pop art than feminist, Davidson's work humorously impels the viewer to question preconceived ideals of feminine physical beauty. Hanging from the ceiling, standing alone, or tethered with rope to beanbag bases, we get the feeling that if cut, these pieces will take off and fly away. Each one more outrageous than the next, the sculptures affirm a voluptuous, full figured femininity, far removed from the dictates of fashion or the preferences of men. The showstopper Buttress, 1997, latex and fabric, is a floor to ceiling stack of pink "buttocks" dressed in a gradually diminishing silver lame thong. The most provocative in this exhibition of large, round forms, Buttress asserts a confidently feminine presence. Its exuberance "moons" the spectator - much like a line of skimpily clad girls in a can-can finale.

Netella, 1997, latex, fabric, and string, is a cleaving pair of yellow globes, covered with a mesh of spider web crochet and sitting on a "bed" of yellow and black ruffles. Clearly an allusion to pregnancy and cell cleavage, Davidson mirrors the concept of a fertile mind complete with creativity and imagination. In Maebe, a floor to ceiling sculpture in Latex, fabric, net, plaster and rope from 1997, the artist pays tongue-in-cheek tribute to the figure of classic film star Mae West. The balloon is laced into the hourglass shape of a blue traditional corset and secured by an immense black fishing net at respective corners of the ceiling. Hang 'em High, 1999, consists of two cleaving red orbs strategically draped with a twenty-foot square of orange netting. It's suspended floor to ceiling with matching orange rope, a small pile providing balance in the rear corner.

Free from the restrictions of any particular artistic genre, Davidson delights in the double entendre inherent in any dialogue about female body parts. And while we're never quite sure what part she's referring to, the vertical construction of Buttress is without a doubt a sly reference to the word "stacked," that vulgar slang term for big boobs. And there's a twist to these large sized balloon beauties - they all sport nozzles that hang like little phalluses here and there. On Buttress, it's possible to see one dangling between "the cheeks." Oh, the body politic has never been so much fun.