A.L. Steiner’s raunch gets full throttle in Out of Focus. It’s all about, as Roberta Smith notes, “almost nothing but women having a blast being women” (or wimmin or womyn or wymin, as Steiner herself suggests, happily tossing grenades into the English language and ripping to shreds any left-over conventional proprieties).
But Smith credits the artist (aka “a sceptical queer ecofeminist androgyne hustling as a cultural worker in late-capitalistic economy”) with some serious things to say about the politics of the body: it comes down to photographs which are “utterly straightforward about their true content, which is nothing more or less than equality”*.
I suspect Steiner herself might find this too polite and abstract. Sex is fundamental to her art and her life, she maintains, and demands constant creativity and invention. Speaking of her work with fellow artist A.K. Burns (Steiner is a great collaborator)
She states her belief “that queer sex and feminist agency is a shared acknowledgement of reciprocal penetration – physically, psychologically. The universe wants us to play… WE ARE WIDE OPEN.”
But pictures like Melissa with Lipstick, or Surviving is Criminal, Modernity is Pornographic don’t spare us the dark side of that penetration. Love needs hate, certainty needs doubt, clarity needs confusion… So why not celebrate with a queer little pas de deux in an automobile graveyard?
Text by William A Ewing
* Roberta Smith, ‘Art in Review: A.L. Steiner’, The New York Times, 29 December 2006.
Art in Review; A. L. Steiner
By Roberta Smith
Contrasts happen. The discrepancy between these two shows deserves note, even though noting it borders on old-school gender essentialism. In the outer gallery is a group show of young British, American and Scottish artists, all men, making what might be called Neo-Constructivist quasi-painting. Most of it teeters between two and three dimensions with a kind of desperate, post-punk glower. None of it is devoid of promise. The best impression is made by Luke Down and Giles Round, who collaborate on a garish triptych called ''2 Willow Road.'' Each part is a spiky, slapped-together geometric abstraction set in a wood frame deep enough to serve as a shelf for the draftsman's lamp sitting on it, lighting the picture.
Meanwhile in the inner gallery is an exhibition of A. L. Steiner's raunchy, out-there photographs of almost nothing but women having a blast being women: on their own, with their children or with other women, whether friends, lovers or comrades in arms. I can't imagine anyone of the female persuasion not getting at least a little high at the sight of this array, which covers most of the available space on the bright-orange painted walls. Men are allowed, but this is definitely a clubhouse.
Ms. Steiner is half of Ridykeulous, a radical lesbian cohort she formed with the artist Nicole Eisenman. Her riot-girl images have clear political, celebratory and perhaps even educational intent, but they work quite well as photographs in their own right. Ms. Steiner is, like Nan Goldin, Terry Richardson or Ryan McGinley, an astute photographer of intimacy. Unlike them, she avoids any connotation of exploitation, intrusion, self-indulgence or sensationalism. Her images are utterly straightforward about their true content, which is nothing more or less than equality.
Read the entire article here
Art in Review; A. L. Steiner and Robbinschilds
By Holland Cotter
The artist A. L. Steiner and the female dance duo Robbinschilds have collaborated on a short video with a long title, ''C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience), Part 1.'' It's playing in Taxter & Spengemann's upstairs gallery, and it's a delight. Like a terpsichorean Thelma and Louise, these dancers are on a journey, progressing through various American landscapes. They begin at a beach, move through futuristic architecture (in Albany I think), then to the desert and into the mountains, ending up in a nighttime mall parking lot.
As they go, they dance, in chorus-line-style pairs, mutually supporting pas de deux and occasional solos, with a fair amount of unconventional movement. In one sequence they lie twitching on a highway; in another they flop across sand like beached fish. As if seeking union with nature they rub their faces in the sand and curl up in the roots of trees. The results are often sharp and witty, and sometimes unexpectedly tender: One sequence ends with one woman falling backward, to be cradled in the other's arms.
Thanks to Ms. Steiner's deft, rapid-fire editing, there are frequent, magical changes of bright-colored matching costumes, from orange to lilac to turquoise. The performance as a whole is a kind of choreographed rainbow, with each band dancing its own dance. And they are wonderful dances. You get to the end of the film and want to start over again. Robbinschilds will perform live in the gallery all day tomorrow.
Read the entire article here