Rockin’ It Right: Between Self Reflection & Self Deception

Artists, accountants and everyone in between turned out for the opening night of Rock | Them, Rox Gallery’s glossy new show exploring our cultural fascination with self image.  Amidst the steady flow of champagne and beats, the vibrant crowd—resplendent in fluorescent hair, neon heels, pin-striped suits and jump suits—seemed to step right off the gallery walls.

"Now, And Forever More" by Lina Viktor. Image courtesy of the artist.

Rock | Them examines the modern American preoccupation with image and status through works from over thirty artists, ranging from pop art legend Andy Warhol to designers-cum-restaurateurs Dee and Ricky. The show’s title refers to the material goods used to create one’s image (the “rocks”) and those to whom the image is projected (the “them”). Curated by Laura O’Reilly of the City Firm and Rox Gallery director Emerald Fitzgerald, the show weighs the gratification promised by material goods against the spiritual and psychological costs of their pursuit.

The Value of Rocks

“Rocks” are building blocks of self-definition, establishing identity through the interplay of fashion, consumer goods and art.  Bodgan Stroe’s “Cake” and “Yen Dollar Pound [¥ $ £]” Paislee snapbacks cleverly reference the iconic Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent trademarks, while CLR Therapy turns art into fashion with its Wearable Collection of backpacks and jeans made from painted canvas.

Work by CLR Theraphy. Photo: Marisa Office

“Rocks” are also weapons of self-protection and even aggression against Them: Dee and Ricky re-imagine a crow bar in Louis Vuitton leather and a grenade in gold, while jeweler and artist Jules Kim casts knuckledusters in the form of precious gems.  Photographer Jordan Doner detonates designer handbags, capturing the resulting image as well as the remnants of the destroyed symbols. 

The Price of Rocks

Along with the potential value of material goods, Rock | Them examines their perils as well.  In Lina Viktor’s mesmerizing self portrait, the real image and the gilded fantasy are nearly indistinguishable. The loss of self similarly pervades the work of Andrea Mary Marshall and Myla Dalbesio.  Marshall’s Self Portrait as the Virgin Surrogate: The Bride In Chanel depicts a pregnant bride, draped in couture, whose face is almost entirely obliterated. 

From the "Stripper" series of Myla Dalbesio. Photo: Marisa Office

In Dalbesio’s Stripper series, the photographic images reduce an exotic dancer to dollar bills clutched against a heavily-painted face and silver talons dug into glittered flesh.  Against these two dimensional images, the only evidence of a real person is a worn pair of platform heels standing empty on a pedestal. 

Rox Gallery – "Rock | Them" Group Exhibition – May 29th to June 30th, 2013 – Tues-Sun: 10am-7pm or by appointment [Prices range from $1,000 to $20,000]

Article by Marisa Office