Bobbi Woods is a conceptual pop artist of multiples. Using old movie posters as the base images for her art, the LA artist applies spray enamel to obstruct specific portions of an image. Her current show at Fourteen30 Contemporary reduces multiples of classic sexual images into frustratingly vague—yet intriguing—anti-sex compositions.
For instance, Woods' series titled As Long As is constructed from multiple copies of a poster of Marilyn Monroe reclining on a pool chair, one leg in the air as she fixes the laces of her platform heels. In one of Woods' manipulations of the image, she coats the original with thick white enamel, leaving Monroe's lips floating on the 24-by-36-inch poster. These disembodied iconic lips—contrasted by another image in the series where only the laces of Monroe's platform shoes are left visible—become less a classic sex symbol and more an object-oriented account of culture-wide desires (we all want pillowy lips to kiss and shoes that make us feel attractive). In the third image of the series, the metal frame of Monroe's chair does a solo and the actress is removed entirely. Here, Woods employs omission to highlight how Monroe is culturally positioned, chairlike, as a dehumanized structural element that supports our fantasies.
Woods often explores ideas of positioning—preferring the stage term "blocking." In another series titled "Nothing/if it feels good," Woods uses promotional posters from the softcore production Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman. The poster displays a photo of a man and woman, both topless and leaning in for a kiss—under them a second nude woman is mid-moan. Woods masks dominant, sexualized chunks of these multiples with large black fields of enamel—as if applied with a roller—thus "blocking" characters into new, desexualized contexts.
Possibly the strongest aspect of this show is arts writer John Motley's contribution—the former Mercury critic was commissioned by Fourteen30 Contemporary to write supplementary essays for their upcoming year of programming. (This show marks the first of 12 essays he'll be creating for the gallery.) Where Woods' work fell short of communicating her conceptual impetus, Motley's essay filled in the gaps, becoming less supplemental and more integral to the exhibit as a whole.