Curated by Ralph Rugoff
Transformers examines the mutating being of fable and myth as it reappears in the art of the late 20th century and seeks to delineate an aesthetic in which identity is protean and theatrical, marked by shifting perspectives and incompatible relationships. In contemporary popular culture, the mutating body of fable reappears in myriad guises, which run the gamut from the abject to the exalted. It figures conspicuously in the genres of science fiction and horror, in children’s toys, and the personas of pop singers. It also makes a memorable cameo in the field of psychology, wherein we encounter the rapidly growing phenomenon of the multiple personality.
The artists whose work is presented in Transformers speak in multiple voices and from shifting perspectives as they dismantle and reassemble conventional signs of gender, race, age, sexuality, and even species. At times the sculpture, paintings, photographs, and prints in Transformers evoke the topsy-turvy world of carnival. They also present a serious challenge to traditional assumptions about the politics of identity and point out the gaps in our fixed categories, moralities, and cultural codes that restrict or stereotype identity.
Among the artists included in Transformers are Jimmie Durham, Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Jenny Holzer, Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Komar & Melamid, Charles LeDray, Glenn Ligon, Christian Marclay, Paul McCarthy, Yasumasa Morimura, Catherine Opie, Adrian Piper, Cindy Sherman, Anna Deavere Smith, Meyer Vaisman, Kukuli Velarde, and Fred Wilson. Transformers is accompanied by a 72-page illustrated catalogue with an essay by Ralph Rugoff, a curator and writer based in Los Angeles.