SOMERS — The University of Wisconsin-Parkside welcomes David Alekhuogie and his multi-disciplinary photography centered exhibition, “Them Boys,” through May 11 in the Fine Arts Gallery of the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities, 900 Wood Road.
An artist lecture and gallery reception will be held from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, to learn more about Alekhuogie’s investigations into the dialectical relationships between politics, race, gender, media and power.
A flash of torso, a T-shirt, underwear, low-slung pants. They form the color fields of red, white and blue that compose the landscape-inspired photographs in Alekhougie’s exhibition. In his exploration of bodies and states of (un)dress, Alekhougie exposes and subverts the meanings and mythologies — of desire and fear, inextricably intertwined, and often involving racial and gendered politics — we ascribe to fashions and the bodies they simultaneously cloak and reveal.
Though the saggy pants style has been around for three decades, it has triggered public consternation among politicians in recent years and spurred a spate of local ordinances around the country, resulting in fines and even prison time. Predominantly associated with urban hip-hop culture, the prohibition of low hanging pants suggests camouflaged regulation of black male bodies and their self-presentation.
Alekhougie of Los Angeles complicates the heavily coded narrative by posing his saggy pant compositions on both mannequins and models, males and females. The wide swaths of color in the close-up images also feature branding of labels with potent associations with the urban and Americana like Tommy Hilfiger, True Religion and Dickies. Cropped and abstracted yet seductive, the photographs dialogue with advertising imagery and hint at the commodification of the sagging style.
The photographs are accompanied by cyanotypes toned in Epson ink of classical statuary, juxtaposing contemporary representations of male bodies and fashions against transferred images of ancient idealized figures and garments set in stone. In addition, sculptures cast from lower half body mannequins out of concrete, the modern industrial stone material, recall the classical marble figures depicted in the cyanotypes. In “Them Boys” fragments of bodies recur, the succinct synecdoches hinting at the anxieties, of lust and disgust, about the public persona versus the private self, felt over bodies throughout history and in our current moment.
Alekhuogie’s work has been exhibited and collected nationally and internationally, and his art has been published in various publications.
Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday or by appointment; call 262-595-2342.