New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Adam Fuss
Home and the World
Adam Fuss, “Alphabet 2010”

Pretensions trump talent in the new Adam Fuss show at the Cheim and Read gallery.

Surrounded by images of snakes on an empty bed and embedded shrine-like in the middle of the floor in a darkened room is his central image of a vagina.

Vagina + snake + bed = oh gosh oh golly SEX!!!!!!!

Beneath the obvious Freudian symbolism is a deep-set misogyny even more disturbing. Vagina=darkness=snake pit=slime=evil: the associations are glaringly apparent. This is the work of a man who in his deepest heart finds female sexuality repugnant. While the exhibition fails artistically, it does succeed as self-revelation. Mr. Fuss’s feelings are all too clear.

Now I don’t find vaginas objectionable, (Look at Judy Chicago’s work to see the theme explored with ever so much more originality, imagination, and depth), but I do find Fuss’ heavy-handed symbolism and sophomoric sensationalism so.

In the next room is a series of snakes photographed on a light box, or over old newspapers. At least these tend towards the decorative rather than the symbolic.

Admittedly, Fuss does take interesting technical approaches, by using photograms and Daguerreotypes. However, that does not make up for the banality of his content. (As if it were enough just to pull off one of these laborious techniques, photographers who explore old techniques often get away with god-awful content. Having a photographic vision is irrelevant. )

Adam Fuss does have a vision, but here it is slight, pretentious, obvious—and mean-spirited. And from a photographer who has done distinguished work in the past, a serious lapse.

Certainly he can do better.

Adam Fuss
Home and the World

Cheim & Read
547 W 25th St.
Chelsea         Map

212 242 7727

Thursday, September 9 to
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Hours: Tues - Sat, 10 to 6