There’s nothing hokey about Jason Hackenworth’s balloon sculptures. The large-scale works (over seven feet) consist of balloons woven and tied into an array of strange forms, from the sexually suggestive to overgrown parasites. The monster from the recent Korean film “The Host” comes to mind, a mutant of the sea with an appetite for people. Hackenworth uses brightly colored balloons as if to stun and lure unsuspecting viewers into the realm of dangerous beauty. Hackenworth’s recent forays into wearable balloon fashion, environmental interventions, and as backdrops on the art fair circuit allow the sculptures to take on a new meaning at each location. On a pair of long legs the balloons make the body both ridiculous and monstrous; on a pristine beach it reminds us of our current ecological woes; at a party it is the perfect prop for hedonistic mayhem. Here, in the art gallery, the balloon sculpture becomes sanitized as if it were an ephemeral relic of a mad scientist’s lapse in morality, ready for dissection and rendering viewers into necrotic gnats of beauty, satiated in seduction. (Jason Foumberg)
Jason Hackenworth shows at NavtaSchulz Gallery, 1039 West Lake, (312)421-5506, through Feb 16.