By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The gesture toward his mother also seemed confrontationalat first. Last August, Blake lined the walls of her bedroom with gingerbread, then asked Nan Goldin to photograph it. Some of the photos appeared in Nest, others in the current show. We see the mother in bed, mattress on the floor, the gingerbread making it cozy. This is the Upper West Side apartment where Blake spent most of his childhood. He says gingerbread wasn't exactly a favorite food. He just likes the fact that, cut into 10-inch squares, "it kind of looks like Masonite."
After he installed the big gingerbread house in his last show, intending to evoke both Hansel and Greteland Uncle Tom's Cabin, he found that gallery goers were breaking bits off, eating the work. The inside of that house, he admits, was "buttery." He'd come in and find bite marks on the walls. (When the house sold to a collector, he had to bake a set of replacement squares.) Blake decided on the gingerbread room for his mother because of her response to that show. She liked the house but told him the feeding video was disturbing, "just all the variety of stuff you were eating. But I could see pigging out on the gingerbread for an hour."
The gingerbread remained on the walls of her room for three and a half weeks. She told her son that while sleeping in that sweet ambience, she started remembering her dreams for the first time. He decided that the piece was "a vehicle for me to be more tender with her."
Blake begins his projects intuitively, but then he'll ask: What does it mean to say this is the work of a gay man? Or to say this is the work of a black man? Maybe that changes the meaning of the bunny suit. And everything else.
Asked whether he now identifies as black, Blake says, "In recent years I've been trying to. To see what that does."
"Double Fantasy" is at Matthew Marks, 523 West 24th Street, through May 13.