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.