Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel
Through all of her mediums, however, Lucas explores violence and objectification, through disembodied limbs, substitution of anatomy for food and an unapologetic, ripe sexuality.
Since the late 1990s, most of her ventures in sculpture have used stuffed tights to recreate female limbs, acting as contemporary inflections of the Surrealist tradition. In the 1997 Bunny Gets Snookered series, women’s bodies look like two sets of legs fused together at the torso, or gawky bunnies with a second set of legs for ears; arranged around a billiards table, the correlation between the humanoid-rabbit-aliens and the Hefner-esque environment is telling.
Her more recent NUD series is more abstract, however, and revolves around the ambiguities of gender and intimacy. Lucas’ writhing masses of fluff-filled tights might emulate an embracing couple, an individual in anguish, or the synchronicity of both. Through the semi-opaque tights, the soft fibers in the stuffing look like hard veined marble–another compelling ambiguity.
Above: 'Bunny Gets Snookered #8,' 1997 and 'NUD 24,' 2010.
On the fourth floor of the gallery, the elevator doors open onto a massive car wreck. A 2003 Jaguar has been ripped in half and a giant self-portrait of Lucas overlooks the debris. Under her mischievous gaze, one half of the car is crushed and charred, while the other is in perfect condition, except for the fact that it’s covered entirely by cigarettes. The irony that the latter half is the one to survive the accident not only says that life and death live cheek-by-jowl, but that they are fully enmeshed for Lucas.
Pieces of the destroyed vehicle lay under 10-foot long cast concrete phalluses in the wake of the crash. The sculptures seem crudely referential of classic heroic nude statues; in combination with a contemporary car and a spirit of danger, it looks for a moment as if hyper-masculinity has had a hand in its own tragic downfall.
Above: 'Self-Portrait with Fried Eggs,' 1996 and 'Complete Arsehole,' 1993.
The final part of the show? Sausage Film (1990) is a video of Lucas being served a sausage and then a banana by an anonymous man. She maintains point-blank eye contact with the viewer–subverting fetishitic ideas of women eating on camera–and coolly cuts into and eats the food, crushing it up into little pieces and slicing it with an enjoyable detachment. At the end, she washes it all down with a glass of water, her gaze uncompromising, then gets up, and leaves the dishes behind at the table.
Work by work, Lucas is devouring the patriarchy.
Lead image: 'Is Suicide Genetic?' 1996; all photos courtesy of Sadie Coles HQ, London.
'Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel is open now, until January 20, 2019 at the New Museum.