Harcourt House Artist Run Centre’s two latest exhibitions are vastly different, yet both explore themes of gender and sexuality. Floating Pink Cloud by E.M. Alysse Bowd employs a soft palette and rounded, smooth shapes to analyze the idea of feminine perfection, while Baloney & Cheese by M.N.V. is a humorous, pop art exploration of aggressive masculine sexuality.
Floating Pink Cloud consists of three parts: “Wonder, Wander, Stumbling Flower,” which features five cloth towers, each surrounded by a small, white square of porcelain fencing; “The Pink Cloudless,” a series of five photographs; and “The Scream Catchers,” an installation featuring a workbench and porcelain funnels that, as Bowd explains in her artist statement, are used to capture screams in porcelain bottles.
“Floating Pink Cloud is an image of perfection. It is an image infused with the cyclical yearning of something that is always out of reach, the constant dichotomy of our inner dialogue—self-hate/self-love/self-soothe, and the significance of domestic objects in storing and experiencing daily emotional toil,” Bowd writes.
Each of the three parts explores some aspect of this, but “The Scream Catchers” really encapsulates the yearning and frustration of an unobtainable ideal as even screams of frustration are contained and turned into objects of feminine beauty. One of the most striking elements of the installation is the two clusters of bottles hanging on the wall behind the workbench, which carry both the potential of screams already released and “emotional strife” yet to be captured.
While Floating Pink Cloud is all softness and beauty and layered meaning, Baloney & Cheese is a little more crass and straightforward, but in a really striking and funny way.
“Have you ever experienced when a person’s entire fixation has centered wholly on you, with an unnerving intensity, right up until the very moment they discover that you’re not going to have sex with them and then *POOF!” they disappear in the ether?” M.N.V. writers in her artist’s statement.
Based on what M.N.V. calls “decades” of these kinds of experiences, Baloney & Cheese unflinchingly transforms cheesy come-ons into paintings and works of sculpture.
A prime example is an enlarged Coca-Cola bottle that reads “Share a cock with” and then lists so many women’s names on the label that they’re forced to overlap.