Now that I’ve graduated from the MFA (hooray!), I had time this month to catch two exhibits just before they closed. Today, M. made sure I did not miss the Degenerate Art Ensemble at the Frye Art Museum. Metamorphosis and fairy tale play a large role in their work, which is great fuel for my own writing. One installation drew upon Little Red Riding Hood: an enormous fabric statue of Little Red lifting up her hoop skirt formed a stage for projections and videos. Light from the projections shined through her skirt. The concept reminded me of the Anna’s womb-like skirts in The Tin Drum. The video’s dark playfulness and source material also brought me right back to Angela Carter’s various takes on Little Red and werewolves, the subject of my MFA essay, along with Ovid’s tale of Lycaon. (Wolves do seem to keep reappearing now, wherever I go. In Blind Assassin, my first delicious summer read, a character says, “All stories are about wolves.” And there’s also a new exhibit on wolves at the Burke that I should eventually see.)
Another favorite piece was a quiet video of the Slug Princess, in a yellow knit, slightly bulbous costume with a long shimmery trail, dancing among wisps of grayish-green crackling grass and gobbling cabbages. The actual costume on display immediately reminded me of Nick Cave’s sound suits, which I first encountered in the SAM’s permanent collection when M. and I moved here two years ago. There’s something about those sound suits that just make me go: Yes, yes that is completely right. So I was a happy camper taking my folks to the SAM exhibit when they came to town for graduation. One sound suit that stays with me is one made of vintage metal spinning tops – such playful armor! But all the brightly colored knit suits seemed like more accommodating protection.