Take This Gum and Stick It, a new show at Dublin’s Ellis King, attempts to capture the first adolescent waves of lust, in particular, those few years when personal desire and societal expectation find themselves firmly at odds.
Naivety and rebellion find themselves pitted against one another and also intriguingly combined in this exhibition, as the need to break free from a protective and at times infantilising culture in teenage years finds itself contrasted with the genuine innocence or inexperience of those first encounters. Some works feel aggressively lustful, as in Athena Papadopoulos’s Lounge Lovers at Lupercalia (Forever’s Going to Start at Night). Nobuyoshi Araki’s Untitled shows the alluring ‘innocent’ as framed by the adult world, but seen lesser so by themselves; pure and peachy.
The white semi-transparent curtains in Karlheinz Weinberger’s Romeo (Werner Berger) Boss Der Revenge Gang, the shiny pink satin bow — now dirtied and browning — that sits at the top of Bunny Rodgers’s phallic broom in Self Portrait (Mourning Mop) and the vibrant pinky purple throb of Diamond Antoinette Stingily’s Disney Bytchez all point towards a specifically female view of this moment in teen-hood. It is, after all, girls who tend to be labelled helpless innocents in the face of raging teen hormones. Is this because we believe them to be so, or because we find them much more appealing if they are?
Curator Nasrin Leahy has also pointed to the fact this captures the queer viewpoint, when adolescent sexuality is treated as an especially sensitive beast.
‘Take This Gum and Stick It’ is showing at Ellis King, Dublin until 27 August.