March 3 - March 31, 2018
"Somer is the word used by Ursula Le Guin’s Gethenians to describe their period of absolute androgyny. For the duration, neither their bodies nor their ego perform gender. According to Le Guin's tale, at the end of somer, a Gethenian will then enter the state of kemmer in which their body will adopt and grow the biology we, as humans, associate with man or woman, depending on their complementary partner. For this show at Unisex Salon, I wish to explore the potentiality of what one can intimate and observe given the breadth of space a conceptual somer provides, as well as the beauty in transformation." - Steven Rose
But what is intimacy? In a recent New York Times article, “The Peculiar Position of India’s Third Gender,” Jeffery Gettlemen reports on hijras, an intersex community in India with legal third gender status. The author discusses the religious and social roles of hijras as demigods, beggars, and sex workers on the streets of Mumbai. The stories and images in Gettlemen’s article reveal the onerous and mystical life hijras lead, from the brutal cultural rites they face, to the personal ties to their gurus. The article paints a raw picture of painted eunuchs layered in bright patterned saris who crash weddings and baby showers as they pile up rupees. But what happens to culture when human interactions become purely transactional?
Le Guin’s Gethenians might have another answer to this question. They have innate gender interchangeability through “pheromonal negotiation”. Their rubenesque bodies transfigure depending on their partner’s gender. But unlike hijras, Gethenians’ reproduce. Sex for hijras is occupational. Both groups defined by their gender-specific ambiguity. Still, Gethenians are a fictional race and hijras are not. But what does this say about our ideas of the physical body and the existential soul? – Perhaps that there is some tension between the surface and the core of an object.
Unisex Salon presents Steven Rose’s solo exhibition Somer, which considers such a duality: “the process of something changing over time; and the peculiarity of origin and a gesture that's enjoyed…” (Rose). The work in this exhibition draws on installation and performance. Paddle 2018 is a series of cactus paddles cast in bronze and placed on leather benches. a.Shelf series 2018 consists of five repurposed atelier shelves adorned with erosion, pigment, and jars. Low Boy (variation of for/while) 2018 is an eight-foot fluorescent light chained to the ceiling hovering close to the floor, illuminated. Within the gallery, weight and motion are situated and paused obstructing viewpoints and re-contextualizing function. Is something up with that chair? Rose’s work suggests (or is suggestive) that all vessels, living and inanimate, share a utilitarian purpose to evolve.
The opening hosts a performance organized by the artist that offers a less transactional experience.
- Melissa Hopson
Steven Rose (American, b. 1976) is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in New York. Rose graduated with an MFA from Hunter College, CUNY (2010). Selected shows, both solo and collaborative, include Meditation on Nothing But Flowers at ‘Cave Detroit in Detroit, One-Night Only Performances: A Tribute to Guglielmo Achille Cavellini (1914-1990) at LynchTham Gallery in New York, ORANGATANG at Picture Farm in Brooklyn, and A perceptible decay in normalcy at Kultur-able in Berlin.
133 Manhattan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11206