Queer-studies icon Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick named as “the homosocial” the cycle of self-consumption and regeneration within masculinity. A variety of manly tensions are borne out by the juxtapositions in the group show “Weird Dude Energy,” now at Heaven. There’s Jesse Butcher’s provisional nailed-together stands for found objects, one bearing a leather jacket and the framed (Black Flag song title) “My War” and the other an image of a guy in a skull mask next to labeled moral-hygiene film reels, playing off against Mike Rea’s impeccable all-wood construction of a tall boom mic stand inside a partial jail cell and hanging over a wall incised with William Blake’s scene of God creating with a golden compass. There’s the Picassoid swagger of Ethan Gill’s large painterly canvas (“No You Don’t Ethan, Ethan No You Don’t!”) versus Auggie Oz’s delicate floral still-life (“Abstract Painting”). In video, the hypnotic Big Brother/big brother grimacings and donut enticements of Casey McGonagle offset the femme-y Milli Vanilli-focused fabrication montage by Benji Pearson and the failed ladder-balancing performance by Sebura and Gartelmann.
As Sedgwick’s mentor Harold Bloom famously fulminated, the anxiety of influence remains the generative crisis of the castrated artist. Representing the assertion of disembodied manhood after modernism, Alex Gartelmann’s flaccid aluminum bat simultaneously deflates both Richard Serra and Robert Morris, while Zak Arctander presents an anonymous (yet) Warholian monochrome photo portrait of a skater stud in a Vans hat. Ivan Lozano offers resin-cast hands on poles in front of UV bulbs as perhaps a tanning-bed tribute to Paul Thek and Bruce Nauman, and Alan and Michael Fleming’s evenly spaced stack of wall-mounted pizza boxes spoofs Donald Judd’s repeatedly serialized phallus. In the end, there’s just nothing that says “competence” like a great curatorial concept enjoyably, even suavely, executed. (Bert Stabler)
At Heaven Gallery, 1550 North Milwaukee