Musée Magazine: Exhibition Review: Linder | Sex-Pol

December 13, 2022

Nina Rivera

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Blum & Poe presents Sex-Pol by UK-based artist Linder, known for her compelling photography, revolutionary photomontages, and politically-contrary performance artworks.

Linder’s history as a fringe culture British punk idol in the 1970s gives strong insight into the artist’s passionate commentary on gender constructs and the corporatization of the body, specifically the perceived female body and sexuality. One of her earliest works that put her on the map was the cover art she created for punk band Buzzcocks’ single Orgasm Addict, which depicted a photomontage of a woman’s nude body with the head of an iron and smiling mouths in the place of her nipples. In another series she worked on in the 1980s titled SheShe, Linder took black and white images utilizing suggestive objects such as keys, bandages, and lingerie from the 1940s, alongside self-portraits to inspire discourse over the problematic fashion industry.

This unconventional and opposing imagery is meant to criticize the limiting portrayals of female sexuality in relation to their expected “traditional” roles in society. Her photomontages are usually referencing elements from vintage and modern extreme pornography publications, lifestyle, car, and fashion magazines, as well as calendar stock images of English flora and fields. 

Sex-Pol is an exhibit influenced by the 1920s-30s sexual liberation movement of the same name led by Wilhelm Reich. Her staple photomontages not only offer visual representations of how desire and sexuality have manifested over time, but also their potential expressions in different timelines. This idea is examined through three unique threads that Linder has created for herself to exist within—Art and Industry, HE Shells, and Le Theatre

The installation itself embarks on a journey of elegant monochrome detail to a striking display of jewel tones and arrestment. Her black and white photomontages are works stemming from her involvement in David O. Russell’s film Amsterdam (2022), in which Linder deeply considered the kind of artwork a 1930s resistance member of the fascist party would have to symbolically showcase their radicalism. This investigation led her to HE Shells, “a military abbreviation for ‘high explosive shells’” and Art and Industry, named after Herbert Read’s “publication Art and Industry: The Principles of Industrial Design (1935),” according to the gallery press release. 

Each separate collection displays bodies in relaxed poses and scenarios with Linder’s classic montage interruptions, featuring seashell cutouts as heads and various household items and mechanical ware. Le Theatre has a similar function showcasing vintage depictions of the theater arts photomontaged with anatomical, clinical renderings of human organs. This inclusion of the theater feels like a fitting choice for Linder’s criticism on draconian systems of power and oppression, as she can now shine the proverbial light on abstract representations of abuse. 

As stated by the gallery, also included in the exhibition is a series motivated by “Book X” of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Another photomontage array opens a door into the exclusive Texas underground community through the ballroom-inspired multidisciplinary collective, House of Kenzo, and the Texas-based occult musician and artist, Rabit. Linder’s Ancient Greek inspired series mainly highlights the myth of Myrrha, who birthed Adonis after having incestuous relations with her father, and was subsequently cursed to become a weeping myrrh tree for the rest of time. This supposed transformation is demonstrated by Linder’s montage approach of appropriating modern pornographic images and archived Roman sculptures, craftily melding them into one. Her work exhibiting Rabit and House of Kenzo celebrates reclaimed expressions of blackness and queerness within oppressed marginalized groups in Texas. With the inclusion of photomontages and two looping art films, Linder creates an incredibly moving dichotomy between the freeing disposition of Rabit and House of Kenzo and the imagery of “domestic” objects representing “normalized” gender and body constructs. 

Linder’s approach holds a sophisticated violence in each image that opens a conversation about the way queer, BIPOC, womxn-representing individuals are depicted in popular culture. As an artist, she is undulating and confrontational in her work, accurately demonstrating the spirit of rebellion and change.

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