Pillar of Salt
Published May 12, 2009
For automobile fetishism, go see Kenneth Anger’s films about the male gaze and the towel rubdowns on view at PS1. For autmobile necrophilia, there’s Banks Violette’s show at Team Gallery. Though primarily a show of works on paper, in the one sculpture on view Violette performed an autopsy on a fetish object—and compared it with an anatomy of a more personal variety.
Violette has long (or as long as you can call long for an artist born in 1973) examined the death of different sub-cultures and their resilience in cliché. For “ZODIAC (F.T.U.)/74 ironhead SXL,” the artist bought a brand new motorcycle, symbol of all things masculine, shiny, American, and rebellious. Violette customized his bike like any good roadhog would—he replaced the seat, and it looks like he might have fixed up the tires and handlebars. To memorialize the bike, he had to take it apart, piece by piece. Then he cast each piece (twice—it’s an edition of two. Uncanny, eh?) in resin and salt—the stuff of both preservation and eternal punishment. The resulting sculpture is a surgically precise anatomy of myth—and it’s more. The white bicycle commemorates victims of bike accidents and the “F.T.U” in the work’s title alludes to “Fuck the Universe,” a line the artist Steve Parrino would repeat. Parrino, a friend of Violette’s, also made work about the influence of sub-culture on painting, and of course died tragically on his bike in 2005. Violette’s memento motorbike finds itself displaced in the gallery, cause of death unknown.
Banks Violette’s Not Yet Titled is on view through June 20. Team Gallery is located at 83 Grand St, New York.