Just inside the Laverne Krause Gallery stands the ambassador of this week’s show, a hinged white box with two tiny explosions of tangled hair erupting from it. The abstract figure embodies everything that the “BROSHOW(FOSHO) SHOW” is at first glance: playful and a little heavy-handed.
Witness the pile of tire shreds, the video montage of dubbed-over action scenes and the field of ripped and melted dolls, and you’re bound to feel shell-shocked… or maybe just numb, like that hairy box.
I actually had to view the BROSHOW twice before writing this. Manhood is, despite (or because of) the boxy stereotypes, a very complex state of being.
Next to the box art is a long printout of a Google image search for “manly man.” If you click that last link, you’ll see how little wiggle room there is in the definition of an ideal man. The leader of the pack is a retro gent holding a beer. “Being an a**hole is all part of my manly existence” says the accompanying text.
I will never be like the aggressive musclemen who populate this list, and I try to make myself believe that I don’t want to be. But I do but I don’t but I do.
Of course, if you peel back those onion layers, there’s usually a sweet, bromantic center. Two low-key photographs form the heart of the show.
The first, an image of a TV screen showing a tuxedoed man with flowers, reminded me of my parents’ wedding photos. In those pictures, my 20-something dad doesn’t look rugged or mean, but he does look strong and handsome. Could this picture be making a similar comment on a more real, graceful state of manhood?
Something tells me the use of a second frame (the TV screen) is pointing us toward the media or advertising. It’s still a refreshing meditation amid the carnage, though.
The second image is something of a mystery. A blindfolded man gets a shave from his buddy, who is naked but for a pair of Nike short-shorts and spectacles. It’s a vulnerable moment that digs deeper than any other piece in the show. Brotherly love is, by nature, largely undiscussed among men. The brilliantly composed shot shines a touching light on it.
All in all, I’d call the BROSHOW one of the most striking exhibitions I’ve seen at the Krause. If only the show’s multifaceted heft could have been matched by a little more attention to detail. That last photo was hung with paper clips, and none of the pieces were titled. That’s men, I guess.