Oscar Tuazon’s solo exhibition Sex contains a body of work that re-purposes the functionality of once operational objects into, well, something else. In some ways the work is destroyed, its original intention thwarted. But mainly, Tuazon’s intervention and de-construction of things like his bed, a mirror, and photographs establish a new meaning for these objects. He has transformed and shifted the purpose from one kind of usage into another. It’s a bed you can’t use, a mirror that you have to look downwards to see your reflection, and photographs so dark you can barely make out the landscape. These things have reached beyond their original limits and have become artworks.
Housed in Kenny Schachter Rove in Hoxton Square, itself a model of temporality, Jonathan Viner Gallery’s use of the space is a transfer of functionality. Here the work looks dirty, used, loved. Nothing in the exhibition is or seems fragile. The intention of Bed (2007-2010) is to be walked all over. Though made of glass, Wet Magic (2010) is statuesque and strong. Even the bent photographs Smoke 1 and Smoke 2 (both 2010) are mounted on sturdy aluminum. The strength of these objects has been re-enforced during the re-assembly of structure and meaning.
With an obvious interest in domesticity and interior design, Tuazon has weaved a personal history into the durability his artworks. They are intimate without being obviously so, their appeal lingering softly. For instance Bed, his literal bed, takes center stage. His mattress, removed from his Parisian apartment after being damaged from a fire in the flat below, is covered underneath a wooden platform (looking like a cross between a theatre stage and a skate-ramp) made to the exact dimensions of his former home. Personal enough, it was even more poignantly sentimental as his daughter ran and played over the work during the private view. It’s the photographs, though, that are the most romantic. Taken in the darkness, the treetop landscape is distorted and barely visible. They are photographs that cannot wholly be seen but their damaged exterior makes them completely desirable.
Sex is full of angles, interiors verses exteriors, and framing; playing with what the audience sees, knows, and assumes. Tuazon questions what purpose can mean and emphasizes that contextualization, i.e. where the work is situated (home, studio, gallery), is the place for new meanings to emerge.