No Sex Please, We're Artistic

A group show in Connecticut gets a G rating.

A number of second-rate conceptualists are represented by typically second-rate works. Meg Cranson gives us the theoretical, or demographic, body in The Average American, a color photograph of a naked white woman standing next to stats telling us she is 32.9 years of age, 135 pounds, and 64 inches tall. So? Jeanne Dunning includes two mediocre photographs of a woman covered in brown slime; and Spencer Tunick's videotape shows hordes of bare bodies, as they lie down or get ready to be photographed by the artist. A tape with this many naked people that manages to be so dull deserves some sort of prize.

Ironically, or maybe not, it is around the aging body that this show stirs to life. In one photograph the old sly fox John Coplans is seen seated, hairy-legged, and pudgy. He twists to show himself off. His admirers soberly talk about Coplans's "addressing a taboo subject," when really he's just a spunky narcissist. Finally, Manabu Yamanaka's large, immaculate black-and-white photograph of a very old Japanese woman is as shocking as it is intriguing. "So this is what the end looks like," you think. Her skull, now nearly bald, rests on the floor like an ancient stone; she's little more than flesh on bones, yet she's still vibrant. If you do not distance yourself from this picture of life-on-the-threshold-of-death, Philbrick's seminar in the flesh may have its saving grace after all.

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