Thursday, January 15, 2015

BEVERLY HILLS JOHN: John Waters Exhibit

reporter/photographer: Miguel Dominguez

On January 9th, Marianne Boesky Gallery presented Beverly Hills John, an exhibition of new work by John Waters. This is the Director/Artist’s third solo show at the gallery.

John Waters lives and works in Baltimore, MD. In September 2014, The Film Society of Lincoln Center honored Waters with a Film Retrospective, Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take? As a visual artist Waters has had numerous solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including a complete retrospective, John Waters: Change of Life, at the New Museum, New York (2004), and most recently at Spruth Magers, Berlin (2014); McClain Gallery, Houston (2012); Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco (2010); Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans (2011); Albert Merola Gallery, Provincetown (2009) and Gagosian Gallery, LA (2009).

More personal and self-critical, this new body of work seeks resolution to a set of questions about Waters’ own experiences, or as he describes them: his childhood fame issues, his fear of false glamour and nouveau-riche comfort, his ongoing sexual attractions, and the possible horror and risk of a “careericide” with dignity. In Self Portrait #5, Waters portrays himself as a despised dogcatcher, nostalgically yearning for the days he was hated by the “moral” guardians. In Beverly Hills John, he imagines himself with a plastic surgery makeover, lip and cheek augmentation, Botox, and an alarming hair transplant. Hysterically poking fun at his own vulnerability in these images, Waters also sincerely asks whether his reinvention invites self-parody. Regarding these depictions, he writes, “Since I haven’t made a film in ten years, must I give my entire life’s work a facelift? Now that celebrity is the only obscenity left in the art world, where do I fit

In the main gallery, Waters draws from his notoriety as a film director to present a new 74-minute video entitled Kiddie Flamingos. The video shows a table read of Waters’ X-rated 1972 cult film Pink Flamingos, rewritten as a children’s movie with an all-kid cast. Waters hopes that this defanged and desexualized sequel is even more perverse than the original, transferring innocence into a new kind of joyous, G-rated obscenity.

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