The Printed Image Bookshop : Photography Books

September 3, 2007

Plastic Porn : Renato Grome – Dollypop

Filed under: Editorials, Exhibition Listings, Exhibition Reviews — printedimage @ 2:56 pm

gromes.jpg

Who: Renato Grome
What: Dollypop
Where: Byron McMahon Gallery in Redfern NSW until 22  September & Monash Gallery of Art in Wheelers Hill VIC until 30 September

Renato Grome’s Dollypop solo exhibition is showing simultaneously in Sydney, Melbourne and Rome. It has excited a bit of media interest due to its titillating subject matter – namely Ken and Barbie dolls arranged in a variety of sexual positions.

The images from the show that TPI have seen online are candy coloured, soft focus and appear to have been lit in a style reminiscent of stage shows – or one might assume – spot lit strip clubs. What seems to have excited so much interest is that
the dolls are barely discernable as dolls.

TPI have not seen the actual prints but it seems that close inspection is necessary in order to unpack the subject matter. Grome stated in the Sydney Morning Herald that the show was inspired by playing with Barbie dolls on a train with his daughter about 17 years ago. He was interested in the contrast between the extreme anatomical detail of the dolls and their lack of genitalia.

TPI thinks that the images could be read as reflecting the plasticity of pornography and the artificality of the sexual behaviours it depicts. But we also have to ask do we really need more pornart/artporn?

Perhaps we are a little bit jaded, however this work does not seem to offer anything other than the pleasantly pretty, momentary site gag of “is that real, no –  it’s a doll”. We certainly do not get a sense from the images that we have seen thus far that Gromes is adding a critical voice to cultural debates about the representation of women, the mainstream fetishisation ofporn sexuality  or the schooling of children  – through commercial products – into a particular form of adult mores.

TPI are well aware that our perspective is not a popular one. Sexually explicit imagery is so pervasive in every form of media and art that it does not seem to raise eyebrows amongst men or women. Most of this imagery seems to grind relentlessly on, raising the shock & awe bar on what came before in a bid to stay current.

  • What we all must ask ourselves is  how does this cultural  preoccupation serve us?
  • What impact does pornography and the mainstreaming of porn aesthetics have on how we learn to be men and women, and on how we learn to relate to each other?
  • Why is that social awareness can cause a backlash against ‘fast’ food but society seems unwilling to even suggest that there may be a problem with ‘fast’ sex – because surely porn has as little to do with sexual relationships between consenting adults, as chain store hamburgers have to do with home cooking?

Let us know what you think!

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