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Decades Old Salmon… Manon: Still Pink

May 28, 2009

1235776000-boudoirFind Manon’s bed, just to the right of the phalluses at the Swiss Institute

Some weeks back at the Swiss Institute on Broome and Broadway, an angular featured woman in a turban called Manon opened a show of her self portraits (and her bedroom and favorite chair)  to a sparse few. Last night, a crowd  including famed fashion  photographer Mario Sorrenti, actress Chloe Sevigny, artist Judith Eisler, designer Daryl Kerrigan, and sundry editors from Interview, V, and the New York Times Magazine, twirled — somewhat bewildered– gazing at bald heads and bare breasts wondering, “Who is Manon?”

Credit photography editor Emma Reeves and ethereal painter Rita Ackermann, who decided the real Manon had not been properly recognized at her debut. Thus, they threw a little cocktail for some of their favorite arty oriented pals.

Who could not help but be pulled into this woman Manon? Whether she knelt, in a glitter winged unitard on the side of what looked like an air conditioner, ready for flight; or arching her 1940’s style eyebrows, pretending to be Miss Rimini, the subject of  her photo book on sale at the event.

Weirdly, without Manon, I think we got the better end of the bargain. The photos, mostly all of the Zurich based artist (now 63), attack like a cabaret performer with a silent scream that prevails. “Look at me damn it!  I’ve painted my lips the color of lotus root! Nude and shiny, crouched in a corner.  I’ve shaved my head like a cancer victim!  Or, I’ve dressed like a man, but with full make up, actually, always in every shot, with full make up, wink, wink.”  

The absence of the artist kept us guessing, even down to her recreated boudoir in the back room of the institute.  A warped salmon colored bed, worn silk covers, a line of fat conch shells posing as female genitalia, and a tray of oyster shells on the ground. Talk about  a rotting libido that just won’t quit, or so we imagined, she entangled us in her sheets without our full consent. She had staged the perfect seduction, something unique in a  bare it all every second  modern age. (Manon, on view  until June 30th, at the Swiss Institute/ Contemporary Art, 495 Broadway (at  Broome), 3rd floor.) 

1242850696-36schlafManon, so loud!

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