Not since Divine gorged on poodle poop in Pink Flamingos has there been such hullabaloo about excrement, yet these huge color photographs of animal and human feces are the opposite of transgressive or outrageous—they’re bland. It doesn’t help that the notorious, ethereally beautiful Piss Christ is hung in a side gallery; powerful diagonals in Serrano’s 1987 shot of a crucifix immersed in his own urine heighten the sense of bloody agony transmuted into luminous golden grace. Variegated browns dominate the current work, while fuzzy backgrounds of tie-dye hues emphasize the sludgy affect of the subjects. Fly Shit features an insect scaling a tapered piece of dung, a high-rise of pestilence; Freudian Shit’s compact arch of crap offers an orifice through which an orange background beckons. The wan punch lines of the titles can’t overcome the general muddiness of the compositions, and although shifting focus while enlarging small objects can create an exquisite tension (think of Laurie Simmons’s photos of dolls in color-coordinated interiors), Serrano’s transitions from blurry blobs to sharp crusts prove undramatic. This shit just ain’t happenin’.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. Starts: Sept. 18. Continues through Oct. 4, 2008