Submission No. 41

Susy Oliveira! On her website, there’s an image cascade of Oliveira’s works. If you mouse-over each image, a title and date pops up, otherwise there’s no explanation, which, inexplicably, I find glorious.

Miriam. Thank you.

I peeked at the artist’s website (usually I just riff on the submission — that’s the idea after all! But sometimes I peek further, with no justification or even attempt to justify except that I have an urge that I do not try to resist.)

Susy Oliveira gets it. She gets that our garden landscapes, with little wooden bridges and flickers of light and shadow and non-native greenery, are inherently fake and teetering on the edge of the heat death of the universe. She gets that summer, with its upward-pointing hard-ons and blinding Bikini Atoll glare and brightly colored cut flowers, is brief and full of sorrow. She does not preach to us she just FEELS it and lets her visual sense guide her. Orange geometric cut-outs across the lush leaves and blades? Yes please. A girl in polka-dotted bikini being eaten by a bear, both of them constructed out of folded cards? Yes please. A human mask made of folded cards depicting twigs, and holding a slight and vacant smile as if to say, “And you? You will die when?” Yes please.

We are dealing with arch representations of “reality.” We are dealing with a grimly determined sense of play. We are dealing with an insistence on indulgence. Some of this is familiar. But something better and new is happening too: a rejection of the treacle of ordinary assumptions. Tropical Contact High, which I think is my favorite work, which I think could make me feel nausea and possibly even a shudder of genuine revulsion and sorrow if I looked at it long enough, is a room filled with posts made of of touristic visions of palm trees and sunsets and beaches. Around each waist-high post we see a stain of reddish pinkish color. It is dangerous and threatening, while it is also funny. The walls are striped, bluntly, with shades of blue. Fuck you, it seems to be saying. I am stained by your assumptions. YOU are stained by your assumptions. Who among us does not want a tropical vacation on a beach with palm trees and sunsets? Who among us is not STAINED FOREVER by the contact of our brains and bodies with the world mediated through our minds? It gives new meaning to the term “vicious circle.”

I am stained, that much is for sure. I thank Susy Oliveira for showing me that. Feels bad. Feels good. Most of all: feels.

Susy Oliveira, The Girl and the Bear

The Girl and the Bear, 2008

The Sun Also Shines on a Pile of Twigs, 2009

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About Tom Clyde

The best place to learn about me is to read my riffs. What could be more revealing? Cheeky, maybe, but true enough.

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