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Arts Blog

Arts Blog

Thoughts & Musings

Larry Jens Anderson's Retrospect at MOCA GA

Caitlin Zelinsky

When debating which exhibition would be layed out in my first blog post, Larry's retrospect was not at the top of my list. Frankly, it wasn't even in the first draft. But here I am, two weeks after visiting the museum, that his work is still very much present in my thoughts. I have to warn you, this is a tough exhibit to walk though. (I told you all good art isn't necessarily pretty) With gay marriage finally legalized in all 50 states, it's interesting to see the art of a man who wasn't as fortunate as we are today.

Larry confronts the issues of growing up gay during a time when it was not accepted in his Retrospect at MOCA GA. In his "Only Dick, no Jane" series, Anderson uses the repeated imagery of a small boy, seemingly clipped from a child's coloring book, and applies "female" attributes to them. Whether it's bright colors scribbled outside the lines, 60s pop flowers, or glitter, Anderson connects with feelings of  "I'm different" from a very early age. Moving along, the art develops into highly conceptional thesis's, far beyond the little boy playing with girl's toys. For example, his I Am the Center of the Fucking Universe, 2002 he pastes a large asterisk symbol in the center of a white paper and hangs it in a black frame. Upon closer look, surrounding the symbol are descriptive words written in white. Words like faggot, and twat. These works are incredible on two fronts. First, he is hinting that we, as humans, are more than what first meets the eye. We are greater then a symbol, or what we are perceived to be. Secondly, he forces you to come close, connecting the viewer and the artist's true self. You can almost feel the hate steaming off the page. You may not have said these words, but someone once did and you can see/feel the aftermath. With contrasting black and white word play and fallen angel imagery, there seems to be an invisible tension surrounding this group of artworks. 

Once this sinks in, there is one room left for you to walk through. On the far wall you see large scale nude paintings of males pointing heavily at each other. In the center of the room stands a white box stating the number of people fallen to A.I.D.S. during the 80s and 90s epidemic. Visitors are asked to write the names of their own friends and loved ones lost on the outside of the box. (When I visited there were already 100s of scribbles coloring the outside of the container) Upon further inspection, you notice the window where you can see inside. Body bags...pilled high on top of each other. A mummified body hangs over the installation. On the gallery walls are crucifixes made up of various tools and found objects.

I told you it was intense. 

With the very recent legalization of gay marriage, this curator couldn't have picked a better time to show this particular body of work. Larry painfully opens up about being gay in an unfriendly gay world, one that is hopefully behind us. He shows us how words can hurt, and how hiding your true feelings probably hurts much more. 

"I make art in defense of who I am and would like to radically change that discussion" - Anderson

"Just Dick, No Jane" Series
  I Am the Center of the Fucking Universe , 2002. courtesy of MOCA GA

I Am the Center of the Fucking Universe, 2002. courtesy of MOCA GA

 detail of  I Am the Center of the Fucking Universe,  courtesy of MOCA GA

detail of I Am the Center of the Fucking Universe, courtesy of MOCA GA