• Fred Hatt – Play With Me!

    Date posted: March 7, 2007 Author: jolanta

    “Play With Me!”—it sounds like the entreaty of a bossy child. In this scorched and blackened landscape set around a tumorous tree, creepy baby dolls, human-headed birds and human-vegetable hybrids play out perverse games. Looking upon Yuliya Lanina’s Boschian orgy, it seems at times innocent, at times twisted. These feelings never quite resolve, but remain in a kind of sustained cognitive dissonance. The scene may evoke queasy laughter, a detached feeling of bemusement and/or disgust, but the title says “Play With Me”—we are asked to enter into this scene with a sense of childlike wonder and abandon.

     

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    Play With Me! – Fred Hatt

        “Play With Me!”—it sounds like the entreaty of a bossy child. In this scorched and blackened landscape set around a tumorous tree, creepy baby dolls, human-headed birds and human-vegetable hybrids play out perverse games. Looking upon Yuliya Lanina’s Boschian orgy, it seems at times innocent, at times twisted. These feelings never quite resolve, but remain in a kind of sustained cognitive dissonance. The scene may evoke queasy laughter, a detached feeling of bemusement and/or disgust, but the title says “Play With Me”—we are asked to enter into this scene with a sense of childlike wonder and abandon.
        Lanina tells us the story that is depicted in this diorama in an entry on curator David Gibson’s blog. It seems to be a tale of lost innocence like the Garden of Eden story. A young hell-raiser slays a white dove, causing eyes of awareness to emerge from the birds and flowers and to summon the wrath of a drunken baby god. In the diorama, the exultant killer appears not as a virile savage, but as an absurd, plump baby with the face of a little old man dressed in S&M leather gear, with a huge ring pierced through his tiny penis. This killer is neither heroic nor evil, he is, simply, ridiculous, but he deals death all the same.
        The vengeful god is just as ridiculous as the object of his wrath. Stubby little infant extremities protrude from a fetish-masked head. Inside the gaping mouth, we see another baby figure, perhaps, like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, a human figure pretending to be God.  
        The setting for all of this is a black landscape, maybe burned by war or polluted by industry. The creatures inhabiting this world, however, are cute and whimsical despite their fetish wear or their perverse activities.  There are white flowers, pretty birds, deer and monkeys. There is even a pair of fornicating carrots.
        This imaginary world seems to represent the world we live in, where violence emerges from the most infantile impulses, and where softness and sweetness keep thriving amid all the darkness and horror. How are we to live in such a place? Yuliya Lanina’s answer is to assert the childlike spirit of curiosity and joy: Come out and play!

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